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AIS program helping retired female athletes stay connected to sport

29 April 2024

Connection, comfort and wanting to make a difference - these were the feelings expressed by the 2024 AIS Accelerate cohort after their first residential workshop in Victoria.

The 2024 AIS Accelerate group
The 2024 AIS Accelerate group met in Victoria for their first in-person workshop.

Supported through the Office for Women, the program helps retired female athletes harness their knowledge and experience in sport and take these skills into their next career.

The group of 15 met in Victoria for their first in-person workshop last week.

The four-day event included presentations from Accelerate alumni and former Australian Diamonds Vice-Captain Natalie Von Bertouch and experts in navigating change, career transitions, networking and storytelling.

In their downtime, the group got to know each other on a deeper level and share stories around the campfire which, for former rower Georgina Gotch, was a great chance to put the communication skills she learnt into practice.

“The program's been incredible, but the time between those sessions spent talking to each other, sharing our stories and processing things that we hadn't during our sport or coming into retirement, that’s been amazing… It’s partnered really well with the sessions,” Gotch said.

Two-time Olympic swimmer Kylie Palmer had similar feelings, adding that beyond the connections, the workshop provided valuable tools to advance their careers.

“It was amazing to meet a whole bunch of retired athletes who have come from various sports and understand their stories,” added Palmer.

“And then have professionals give us tips around what we can add to our little toolbox to move forward in our career and start giving back to the future generations.”

The desire to give back or make a difference was common among the group, with former squash player Kasey Brown excited by the opportunity.

“Creating change in the sporting environment has been a really big focus within this group,” Brown said.

“It’s really exciting that these women want to get involved in sport again and create a difference for the better, especially for female athletes coming through.”

AIS Accelerate Residential Workshop 2024
Presentations covered topics including navigating change, career transitions, networking and storytelling.

With eyes set on the future, the group will continue to develop their professional skills through online sessions before coming together again in June for the final in-person workshop.

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