Women's AFL inspiring young girls into sport

 group of girls in sports gear hold a trophy aloft​When it comes to encouraging young girls into sport, this year’s inaugural AFL Women’s competition has provided plenty of role models to inspire future female athletes.

Among those donning their team’s colours each week have been 14 Victorian school teachers including Shae Audley, a year 1 teacher at Laurimar Primary School in Doreen, in Melbourne’s north, who played this year for Carlton. Shae, 28, has certainly found balancing a full-time teaching job - with 21 six and seven-year-olds in her class - with professional football makes for a busy life.  

“I have had to make sure I am extremely organised,” she explains, adding that she keeps to-do lists to manage everything. “It’s been busy but it’s do-able.”  

Shae, who has been teaching for four years, adds that playing professional football, and having young girls look up to her, has been a bit of an honour.  

“Ever since I was five or six, I used to play football with my brother in the park across the road. Playing professionally was always a dream but the pathway was not available. Now it’s become a reality. It’s a dream come true.” 

She adds that she is a firm believer in maintaining a healthy mind and healthy body. “If I am not doing exercise or eating healthily, my mood just drops. I am a strong believer in this.” 

Fellow Victorian teacher and Western Bulldogs player Kate Tyndall could not agree more. Kate teaches at Travancore School. She is based at the Royal Children’s Hospital, working with young people aged from 12 to 18 who are dealing with mental health issues.  

A teacher for nine years, she explains, “In recent years we are starting to understand how important wellbeing is and the connection between body and mind. Happy people feel good, are more productive and have better results.

For me, exercise is really big, so is eating well and spending time with friends and family.” At the hospital, she teaches “move” sessions, which is like PE.  “I encourage students to be as active as they can be. It’s important for their recovery and also for them to understand that being active is a really good tool for the future.”

As featured in Leader Newspapers on 8 May, 2017.