Monash students forging a path in new AFL Women’s competition

Monash University will be well represented in the inaugural AFL Women’s league with six current students or alumni playing in the new competition. The competition represents the first opportunity for women to play the sport of Australian Rules Football professionally.  

Current PhD student and alumna Kate Gillespie-Jones was selected with the 14th pick in the recent national draft and will represent Carlton when the league kicks off this Friday night.

Gillespie-Jones has been playing senior football for five years for the Seaford Tigerettes after falling in love with the sport when she was young.

“It's pretty exciting that there's going to be a national competition and it was pretty exciting getting picked for Carlton because I was really hoping to go there,” said Gillespie-Jones.

“I was happy to get picked really high up, but it was really nerve-racking on the day to see some of my friends waiting to get picked that got picked a little further down, so my nerves didn't really go away until the end of the draft.”

Bachelor of Arts student Pepa Randall was selected by the Melbourne Demons with pick number 121 after just two years playing women’s AFL.

Randall said that while getting to play alongside stars like Daisy Pearce and Mel Hickey was a great opportunity, it is the level of coaching that has been the best part of the experience so far.

“What's been most amazing has been the quality of coaches that we've had. That's been a huge difference and it’s really helpful.

“It's a way of going about things that most of us have never experienced before and it's awesome.”

Randall converted to playing women’s AFL from her athletics background and found immediate success. She was selected to play for the Western Bulldogs in 2015 after just over a year in the sport and encourages others who are playing different sports to give footy a go.

“Athletics gave me a really good background and has been a huge asset for me in footy. Obviously the AFL is pulling a lot of girls from different sports and I would encourage all girls to try out.

“I think it's especially good for girls who maybe aren't super passionate about the sport they're playing. Most people say it's like no other sport they've ever played, it's very different and there's a really great community.”

While playing AFL isn’t the typical job for a university student, both are excited to be part of the first ever professional AFL Women’s league.

“It still feels a little bit unbelievable. I didn't really think we'd ever have this opportunity especially when at 14 I was told I wasn't allowed to play anymore because girls couldn't play with boys,” said Gillespie-Jones.

Randall said that having a pathway to play professionally will encourage young girls to stay with the sport.

“Most girls kick the footy around when they were younger and didn't get the chance to keep going with it. With footy it was always just a hobby if you were a girl, something you did maybe with your brother, or whatever.

“But if they have a way to actually see that they could be professional footballers I think it would be really good in pushing those girls to pursue the sport all the way through high school to the senior level.”

Kate Gillespie-Jones will be in action in the opening match of the competition when Carlton face Collingwood on Friday February 3 and Pepa Randall will debut for Melbourne when they take on the Brisbane Lions on Sunday February 5. All games will be nationally televised, check your local guides for broadcast information.

Chinese Taipei National University Women’s Basketball Camp

For the past week and a half Monash University proudly hosted the Chinese Taipei National University Women’s Basketball Camp on its Clayton Campus. The camp consisted of a rigorous training program in addition to playing against local association clubs.

The highlight of their camp was the showdown against the Monash University All-Stars team on the 23rd January. The much anticipated game did not disappoint as the Chinese Taipei girl put on an unbelievable 3-point shooting display. Despite the Monash All-Stars’ best efforts, the Chinese Taipei team were unrelenting and ran away with a 91-50 win. Their efforts during the camp clearly paid dividends with such a dominant performance as they led from beginning to end.

After the conclusion of the match, Monash hosted a function where the CEO of Australian University Sports (AUS) Don Knapp and TeamMONASH Director Martin Doulton thanked the teams for playing a basketball match of the highest order in such hot conditions and applauded Monash for organising such a great event.

In conjunction with AUS, Monash University was pleased to assist the newly formed partnership between AUS and the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation. With the World Summer University Games to be held in Taipei later this year, AUS and the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation formed an agreement to further the cultural exchange between the two in the lead up to the games. As such, the Chinese Taipei team were given the opportunity to use Monash University’s great facilities and sporting programs.
Monash University hopes the relationship with the Chinese Taipei University Sports Federation will allow for further opportunities for students to experience the cultural and sporting diversity on offer.


Goolagong National Development Camp 2017

This week Monash University is again hosting the Goolagong National Development camp for the 7th year running, aiding the Evonne Goolagong Foundation to provide opportunities for young indigenous tennis players.
The Clayton Campus is delighted to have the incredibly talented tennis players using our facilities, under the tutelage of the great Evonne Goolagong.  The partnership with Monash University is not only designed to improve their athletic ability but to identify a pathway to tertiary education and support the students through their education. 
The tennis camp is the culmination of a yearlong process encouraging active participation in sport, promoting a healthy lifestyle and most importantly providing an avenue within the education system to achieve success off the court.  Whilst their athletic ability is naturally taken into consideration, the defining criteria for the camp is personal development and academic participation.  To succeed in the program you must “Dream – Believe – Learn – Achieve,” and for the participants to be “willing to improve themselves given half a chance,” in every facet of their life.
 One such athlete is Jesse who has used the development camp to change his life for the better.  Jesse reflected on his years attending the camp stating “that it has been an amazing experience,” teaching you to “change yourself as a person, rather than just improving on the court.” The program also helped him progress through the education system, giving him the tools to improve his grades. As a result, Jesse has started university in Australia and plans to ply his trade as a talented tennis player in America through the college system. 
Roger Cawley thanked TeamMONASH for the positive impact the camp has on the 28 kids who are selected to participate in the camp but also the many hundreds of kids who attend the ‘come and try days’.  Parents had been noting that their kids’ behaviour and attitude were positively influence by what they had learnt. The program is setting up kids for success, regardless of whether they are selected to attend the Goolagong Development camp at Monash University Clayton Campus.

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