Canobolas Girls Academy graduate Erin Naden is kicking goals on and off the field. Here she shares a little of her journey from school to the big league of AFL:
“I joined the AFL as a program assistant in late February. This involves going around to different primary and high schools within this region (of NSW). When we go to the schools, it’s all about promoting AFL, helping kids with their skills and to learn about the game.
“We also do after-school Auskick sessions, carnivals. It’s really good being able to help the kids develop their skills, and just promote AFL in the region to increase participation.
I would like to think I can teach them to be confident in what they do, as well as leadership skills.
At school, I only played league tag and touch as there were no AFL school teams. However, I did get picked for the NSW Indigenous school girls team and the Australian indigenous team.
I’ve always wanted to do something around sport. At first, I really wanted to be a physiotherapist but when I found out about the AFL job I was keen to go for it. It seemed perfect — being outside, getting active, teaching AFL and passing my knowledge to other young people.
I really enjoy the whole AFL environment — they are all so supportive and inclusive. When going away for Australia and NSW I was scared but they were really welcoming and it was probably the best two weeks of my life.
I love every bit of this role. I think the best part would have to be travelling to all different schools and age groups to teach them AFL. Sometimes this is also challenging. For example, the young kids (kindergarten) require more focus, interaction and help for some skills, and then with older kids, we adapt again to try make it engaging, not too easy and they don’t require as much help as the young ones.
During COVID-19, I have been doing some weight and core training while patiently waiting for the season and work to start back up. My passion for sport keeps me going because I want to be the best I can be. I want to maintain all my skills and fitness so I can eventually get picked in high-level teams.
I’d love to make the AFLW in a few years so to be able to do, I’ve got to train hard and stay fit and healthy — that definitely motivates me to keep going.
Girls Academy has helped me be more confident with what I do, and helped me get work done on time. There would be a lot I could say to other young girls, but some things in particular would be: Always be confident with everything you do. Always take on feedback, so you can better yourself. Follow your dreams — no dream is too big or too little, as long as you work hard you can achieve anything.
Also there will be a lot of speed humps, pushbacks and people bringing you down — you just have to push through and eventually you’ll get to where you would like. You just have to put in the effort.”