Balancing work, postgraduate study and a sporting career had Emily Chancellor leading the field as a role model for students at St Joseph the Worker Catholic Primary School Auburn South on International Women’s Day.

Students in years 4 to 6 took inspiration from the professional rugby union player and high performance manager at The University of Sydney’s Sport and Fitness services as she spoke to the event’s theme of equality and left advice for success in sport and life beyond.

Chancellor played four international test matches with the Rugby 7s in 2019 and captained the Australian team at the World University Games in Wales in 2016. She has also completed an education degree with first class honours, and told students a positive attitude and dedication were key to personal growth in and out of the sporting arena.

Emily said that skill can take you very far but that it was hard work that could take you all the way, which I found inspiring.

– Charlette Zin-Daniels

“Emily said that we need to work hard, and definitely to remember that if you don’t succeed on the first try, to try again,” said Year 6 student Cindy Pan.

Cindy competes in gymnastics, cross country and athletics, and said her school gave students lots of opportunities to try different sports.

“I think it’s good for everybody to have an opportunity in sport so that we can stay healthy and fit,” she said.

Classmate Charrlette Zin-Daniels said she saw the similarities between the growth mindset she and her peers apply to their school work – being an active learner, self-motivated and a risk taker – and Chancellor’s advice.

“Emily said that skill can take you very far but that it was hard work that could take you all the way, which I found very inspiring,” said Charlette, who has represented her school in swimming.

“Even if you are not good at a sport, if you work hard you can achieve a lot of things. It makes me feel happy to represent the school in a sport. It’s important for boys and girls to get that chance because we’re both equal.”

The students also played ‘netball rugby’ – a fusion of the two games – during Chancellor’s visit. Lesley Veatsunga, in Year 6, said team sports like netball could also help foster equality.

“It’s fun and we all work together,” she said. “We all can share our experiences to help each other improve.”

Principal Gai Mellville said students had discussed equality in sport including equal pay for men and women, and finding role models from both pools of athletes. For students at St Joseph the Worker that equal opportunity begins at school.

“We’re very fortunate to have a fantastic sports teacher who gives students a lot of opportunities to try different sports,” she said.

“By providing that exposure to a wide range of sports at school they are able to get that wide experience they may not get otherwise. Our Kindergarten class learnt to play golf and put one day. Those are different skills to the gross motor skills you learn in most sports and a different set of skills that students can excel in.”

We all can share our experiences [in sport] to help each other improve.

– Lesley Veatsunga