Walsh shows way for next generation

As well as representing Australia on the field, Westfield Matildas striker Sarah Walsh is showing the next generation of footballers how a career in football doesn’t stop at the whistle.

As well as representing Australia on the field, Westfield Matildas striker Sarah Walsh is showing the next generation of footballers how a career in football doesn-t stop at the whistle.

Walsh has built an impressive career in football, playing at the Olympics, FIFA Women-s World Cup and part of the Westfield Matildas- triumphant 2010 AFC Women-s Asian Cup-winning side.

But she is also working hard to help young footballers coming through the game and build a career beyond the pitch.

Appointed as a game development officer by FFA, Walsh is responsible for facilitating the Illicit Drugs in Sport education program, talking to young people about the risks of drugs and alcohol, and helping other players deliver the program across Australia.

“The messages we deliver surrounding the dangers of illicit drugs are important and I believe by reaching the young players early, we can influence them (through their role models) to make the best decisions when faced with certain situations,” Walsh says.

“I also like the fact that this program enables us to be able to get players out to the football community in general, as I see the joy it brings the kids to meet their heroes.

“Lastly, from a player-s development perspective, the program has provided players with a platform to better their communication/presentation skills and in the process they happen to gain a lot of enjoyment out of the interaction with the kids.

Walsh is also an education ambassador for an Open Universities Australia initiative that aims to help young footballers build a career outside football, with OUA providing scholarships to 10 professional Australian footballers.

“I am completing a Bachelor of Business / Majoring in Marketing,” she says.

“I have been on scholarship with OUA who have been providing me with a sponsored education. I provide them with progress videos for their website.

"The flexibility of online learning suits my lifestyle right now as I am very busy juggling football with the Westfield Matildas and my fulltime position at FFA.”

Given it wasn-t so long ago that Australia-s female footballers were fighting for their own competition, the evolution of support beyond the game is impressive, and Walsh is an excellent role model for young players who might not yet even be considering a life beyond football.

“My advice to the kids would be to make the most out of the opportunities that are presented to you on your journey,” Walsh says.

“During your career you will meet many people that can have a good influence on you and can provide you with good advice and direction.

"Some people call it ‘networking-, but I believe that it-s all about bettering yourself along the way and maximising your potential.

“Much like what our program has to offer, players are presented with time to ask players questions and learn about their journey in order to make the most of theirs. Don-t waste rare opportunities.”

Any queries regarding the Alcohol education (Club Champions) & Illicit Drug in Sport (IDIS) programs can be directed to Sally Shipard on sally.shipard@footballaustralia.com.au or Sarah Walsh on sarah.walsh@footballaustralia.com.au.