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Uni students find purpose in Sydney Catholic sports

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Two students have now transferred to teaching degrees, largely as a result of their interactions with staff and students as general sports officers with Sydney Catholic Schools. Photo: Supplied
Two students have now transferred to teaching degrees, largely as a result of their interactions with staff and students as general sports officers with Sydney Catholic Schools. Photo: Supplied

By Mark Hildebrandt

General sports officers Olivia Mills and William Perrau applied for sporting jobsa year ago with Sydney Catholic Schools to earn some extra cash while studying nursing and business at university.

Both students have now transferred to teaching degrees, largely as a result of their interactions with staff and students as general sports officers with Sydney Catholic Schools.

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Olivia Mills, a former student of Aquinas Catholic College Menai, began a nursing degree in 2022 and worked as a GSO for Sydney Catholic Schools, refereeing touch football and oztag and working as a ground manager for netball and football on Thursdays.

After a semester of studying nursing she realised it wasn’t for her and took time away from her studies to reconsider her career path.

During those six months Olivia worked regularly within the sports department at Sydney Catholic Schools and decided she would switch to teaching.

“My role as a GSO encouraged me to choose teaching as my career path due to the interactions I  had with teachers and students over the last year,” Olivia said.

“Being a ground manager at oztag on Thursday afternoons helped foster the idea of becoming a PDHPE teacher.

“I loved seeing experienced teachers encouraging students to play their best, no matter what the outcome of the game was.”

Olivia is six months into her PDHPE degree at the Australian Catholic University and continues to work as a GSO for Sydney Catholic Schools while studying at ACU.

Fellow GSO and former Aquinas student, William Perrau, began as a GSO in 2022 while studying a business degree.

William was enjoying his studies but while working at primary and secondary sports carnivals, and as a ground manager at football games, he began thinking about the impact he could have on students’ lives as a teacher.

“Coming home from days such as rugby league trials and Thursday oztag has never once felt like work, but rather a day in which I can support and give students an opportunity to excel in different sports,” he said.

“The great people that I have gotten to know through SCS such as sports coordinators, teachers and principals have been a huge influence on me, in terms of wanting to follow the same career path.

“Hopefully in the future I can continue to work with students. It has been extremely rewarding to instil some wisdom I have onto students at these SCS sports days, whether it’s skill-related or just about how they can be a better version of themselves.”

Both Olivia and William are determined to complete their degrees in PDHPE and, like many teachers across the state, hope to have a positive impact on the lives of the students they will teach in the future.

With the introduction of a variety of sports and weekly competition across the whole Archdiocese of Sydney, there are opportunities for students to be employed by Sydney Catholic Schools as general sports officers working as referees, marshalls and ground managers across both secondary and primary school competitions, while they complete their tertiary studies.

Let’s hope many more young students also have a change of heart like Olivia and William and take up teaching degrees.

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