Women of AFL – Sarah Hopkins

Women of AFL – Sarah Hopkins

Sarah Hopkins

AFL Queensland Schools Coordinator

What does your job involve? I oversee school footy around Queensland including administrating school competitions and implementing national programs and incentive to get footy into Queensland classrooms. I also work with the Brisbane Lions in organising their player appearances during the season.

How long have you been involved? 5 years

What is your earliest AFL memory? Growing up in Sandy Bay, Tasmania, and barracking for the Sandy Bay Seagulls as a little girl.

What do you find most rewarding about your role in football? It is very simple: I love footy. It is a very dynamic environment where things continually evolve and change so you don’t have time to rest or get bored. Seeing the progression and development of grassroots players is particularly rewarding, especially in a ‘non-AFL’ state. When you see a child you may have coached at Auskick years ago, playing club footy or taking that next step along the Talented Player Pathway, you get a real buzz.

What is the biggest challenge facing you in your role? The increasing pressure on schools to fit more into their already tight schedules means less time for footy and having to think outside the square to continually ensure we remain on top of our game implementing AFL within schools.

Do you think being a woman helps you to bring a different perspective to your role and/or organisation? Definitely. The diversity of our game lends itself to differing perspectives with all areas of our operations, and can only assist our sport to continue to grow into the future. A feminine point of view is often quite different to a masculine point of view. Women bring a new perspective to the way things have run for years in footy, which is a great asset for the growth of the game as we strive for a more diverse footy community.

What advice would you give to other women hoping to work (or working) in AFL? Work hard: what you put in is what you get back. Above all else, you must love what you do and have a passion for the game.

What do you hope to achieve in football? I would like to continue pushing the professionalism of our sport within our community programs. Continuing to stay ahead of the other sports, making AFL the best it can be, and ultimately Number 1 in Queensland. I want to continue to be challenged, and with the growth of our sport and trying to keep up with everything happening, that isn’t a problem at the moment!

What do you see in the future for women in football? I think we will see more women at all levels and areas of the game: from administration to operations; in the media on both sides of the camera; within clubs and on boards. And probably the most noticeable growth will be amongst our fans of the game.

Who do you admire and why? I admire Rafael Nadal and how he goes about his tennis, his job – he is methodical, thorough and utterly professional, which I believe are traits critical to success. His focus and mindset during a match is so intense, and his rituals and routines all go towards making him the success that he is. Then off court he seems laidback, has a laugh, and generally comes across as having a great balance in his overall life.

What is the most important attribute in a leader? Being a good listener to take in all perspectives of a decision or problem is important, and then being decisive to execute plans and actions with confidence.

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