Amanda Farrugia is on holidays, a time to take a break from the day-to-day “coaching” of her young students as a Physical Education teacher in Sydney’s west.
The GWS skipper is extremely proud of the way the Australian game has been able to engage with younger women and girls in recent years, with participation numbers skyrocketing – a welcome fillip for the code and pleasing considering that teenage girls are traditionally noted for falling away from organised sports in significant numbers.
“I think that’s the hardest part, getting kids at a teenage level to stick with sport. If you look at what the AFL’s doing, the biggest growth is in women’s participation. That’s obviously a result of the work that’s done at the grassroots level, through Auskick and school/community programs.”
Leadership seems to come naturally to the Sydney native; something she has commented on previously. How do her leadership and team-building responsibilities as a teacher compare with those as a renowned athlete and role model?
“They’re pretty closely tied. What I do at school is teaching teenagers and they’re by far and away one of the more difficult population groups to interact with.
"The most effective outcome in terms of a student-teacher relationship is based on the rapport that a teacher can build with their students; part of getting to know teenagers is just understanding them as people & having a vested interest in who they are as individuals – nothing too different to how a leadership group should go about developing connections within their team in a sporting sense.”
A decent start, but not the desired outcome. Another chance this Friday night against the Blues. Thank you to the orange faithful that made the trek yesterday and for the sensational banner. No better feeling than leading this group of wonderful, talented, humble women. #gwsgiants @aflwomens #neversurrender #standtall #daretocreate. Photo courtesy of #michaelwilson @michaelcwillson
Recently fellow AFLW star Erin Phillips expressed a desire to pursue coaching, either with men’s or women’s teams, after retirement. Given Farrugia’s growing profile and wide-ranging experiences, what does she think about coaching or contributing to the game in other ways?
“There’s definitely been opportunities that I’ve dabbled in as a player; just doing some media interviews & those kind of things, that I have enjoyed.
“There are other aspects of the game that I do enjoy – I do enjoy working with young people, watching them grow & I do have a huge passion for the AFL, so there will probably be times where I can help out in some small capacity – but in terms of taking on a fulltime coaching role at an elite level, it’s probably not something that I’d pursue.”
Given her ongoing and passionate commitment to teaching, that sentiment is perfectly understandable. Whatever direction Amanda decides to go, the game and sporting landscape for women will certainly be richer for it.
For the record, Amanda’s pooch was caught and returned to the safety of her backyard.