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Learning from experience

11 June 2024

Nine high performing women are gaining hands on international experience and being fast tracked on their coaching journeys through the AIS Experiential Learning Program (ELP).

Photo of the Australian Volleyroos at the Women's AVC Challenger Cup 2024
Kathryn Chen, Assistant Coach in action with the Australian Women's Volleyroos at the Women's AVC Challenger Cup 2024.

Now in its second year, the 2024 ELP immerses emerging female coaches into elite competition environments as work continues to boost the number of female head coaches in Australian sport.

Research done as part of the AIS Women in High Performance Coaching (WiHPC) Project demonstrates that proven results on the world stage can significantly help a coach progress through the ranks.

The ELP is designed to remove “lack of experience” as a barrier as to why some women don’t climb the coaching ladder by ensuring these coaches have exposure to the highest level.

Just weeks after attending her first ELP Workshop, Kathryn Chen, Assistant Coach for the Australian Women’s Volleyball Team, helped guide the Women’s Volleyroos to an historic result at the Asian Volleyball Challenge Cup.

“It was incredible. We finished top four- which is the first time in 45 years for the Women's Volleyroos,” Chen said, reflecting the performance benefits the ELP can yield for participating sports.

The Women’s Volleyroos overcame India and Iran, sides they have long struggled against, to secure their spot in the semifinals.

There were also immense personal development opportunities for Chen.

“It has been an invaluable experience. I was able to develop my coaching skills under the guidance of Head Coach Russell Borgeaud.

“We competed in very close and intense matches that forced me to apply my learnings, and my desired learnings. I have walked away with more experience, and more areas of development I would like to build on.”

ASC Executive General Manager of AIS Performance Matti Clements said the ELP increases the depth of coaching talent in sporting organisations and gives Australian athletes additional support when it is needed most.

“Our AIS coaching programs aim to challenge the underrepresentation of women in coaching,” Clements said.

“The first country to get this right, and truly unlock the potential of one half of the population, will see the results on the podium. This is one step on our win well path to develop and retain diverse talent- knowing that it will enhance performance.”

With nine coaches in the 2024 intake, there are now 20 women involved in the ELP across 16 sports.

Some, including 2023 ELP funded shooting coach Renae Birgan, have quickly risen into contention to coach at the 2024 Olympics.

  • Hannah Chiang, Artistic Swimming Australia
  • Holly Evans, Hockey Australia
  • Jacqueline Gallagher, Athletics Australia
  • Kathryn Chen, Volleyball Australia
  • Lyneene Orsini, Softball Australia
  • Michaela Pattinson, Swimming Australia
  • Olivia Jones, Rowing Australia
  • Panuga Riou, Badminton Australia
  • Rachel Bailey, Golf Australia
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