Team Harvey Next Gen: The Future of Women's Sport

Team Harvey: The Next Gen – The Future of Women’s Sport

The most exciting development in the sporting world over the last few years has been the rise and rise of women’s competitions. From the launch of the national AFLW comp to the first ever Women’s NRL Premiership and Rugby League World Cup, women’s sport has never been this strong.

Being a proud sponsor of female athletes – including legendary supercar driver, Simona De Silvestro, and the awe-inspiring Katie Kelly – we at Harvey Norman are thrilled that so many amazing women are finally getting the recognition that they deserve.

As barriers are broken down and elite pathways put into place, we passionately believe that the momentum must keep rolling. That’s why it’s been an absolute privilege for us to sponsor six supremely talented up and coming young athletes, as part of Team Harvey: The Next Gen.

Like last year, when we had the pleasure of chatting with the elite female athletes from the original Team Harvey, this year we were lucky enough to sit down with the girls from Team Harvey: The Next Gen. From dreams of winning the world cup to beating out the competition on the supercar circuit, these are the inspirational stars of tomorrow.

 

Alyce Parker

SPORT: AFLW

CURRENT TEAM: Thurgoona Bulldogs, Albury

TOWN OF ORIGIN: Holbrook, NSW

SPORTING ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

▶ Captain of the 2018 AFL Women’s Under-18 All Australian team.

▶ Received the MVP Award for both the AFL NSW/ACT Rams and Eastern Allies sides across the 2018 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.

▶ AFL NEB Female Football League premiership winner and Best On Ground in grand final.

▶ Invited to partake in testing at this year’s AFL Women’s Draft Combine.

 

Alyce Parker AFLW Star

Alyce Parker; pictured wearing the Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker – available at Harvey Norman from early November, 2018.

 

What made you choose AFLW?

I’ve played netball since I was 7, and it was only this year that I stopped playing so I could focus on what I loved more. It was almost a decision that made itself. I saw a bright future developing in the AFLW space but aside from that, the freedom you have on a football field to run and the physicality of it, does not exist in any other sport. I found the skills and fundamentals of AFL more enjoyable than anything I’d ever tried and I knew from the experiences I’ve had so far in this space, that it’s all I wanted to do.

Why is playing AFL as a woman no longer the challenge that it once was?

Opportunity. When I was in primary school, there was no concept of ‘girl’s football,’ there was only ‘playing football with the boys until you got too old.’ Today, there is opportunity for girls everywhere, from Auskick to AFLW, so now being a female isn’t an obstacle to being able to play AFL, even for someone like me who comes from southern NSW.

What gets you out of bed and to training?

The fact that the hard work I put in now will help me in the future, whether that be in AFLW or life in general. Success doesn’t come from coasting along, doing what most teenagers my age do. It comes from hard work and doing the extra things that may be challenging, but pay off. If you develop good habits and a mature attitude at a young age, you stand out from your peers and it helps you to become a better person, and in turn, a better footballer.

What’s your ultimate sporting goal?

My ultimate goal is to play AFLW. For me, growing up, it was always swimming – I dreamed of swimming for Australia as a kid – but since moving into the AFLW space, my priorities have completely shifted. To have the opportunity to play the sport you love at the highest level possible is incredible, considering 10 years ago AFLW was not an option for girls. I wouldn’t mind kicking a winning goal after the siren either – I’ve never done that!

What do you say to people who say that male sport is more interesting than women’s matches?

In a way you can’t compare. You can’t expect the same product, they contrast in many ways. Women bring a different performance than men, which isn’t to say one is better than the other, they are just different. Both men and women bring their own games.

How do you motivate yourself to keep going when things go wrong?

I imagine the moment when I’ll overcome whatever the barrier is that’s stopping me. I don’t believe there is a better feeling than relief, whether it be the relief of finishing a 2km time trial or relief from overcoming a life challenge. Life is full of challenges, some harder than others, and that’s why having a strong sense of perspective is something I value. You enjoy life so much more when you realise how lucky you are to be able to do the things you can, with amazing people supporting you. Having this in the back of my mind allows me to be more grateful for the positive things and allows me to overcome the negative things.

At what age will you give up sport?

Well, my Great Aunt played tennis up until she was 80, so I plan to still be running (or walking) around a tennis court longer than she did! But everyone has a time where they must make that decision – I hope I don’t have to for a long time yet.

Who inspired you to take up AFLW?

My dad played football from a young age and he was the one that taught me to kick before I started school – I guess that’s where my love for it began. I was lucky to have had the opportunity many females across the country never get – I just fell into the sport when my PE teacher at primary school asked me to play in the boys’ side. I jumped at the opportunity!

What would be your advice for a young girl trying to become a professional athlete?

Don’t limit your potential by taking the enjoyment out of what you do. I played seven sports at one stage despite people telling me I needed to choose one if I wanted to succeed at something, but I didn’t want to give up any. I loved them all! It wasn’t until I realised how much I actually loved football over the other sports that I made the decision to stick to one. It happened naturally and it’s because I just enjoyed being a kid and playing every sport I could. Decisions have their time and place, but enjoying what you do is so important and leads to the greatest success.

Who is your sporting idol?

I am a huge Richmond Tigers supporter and Brett Deledio was the first player I ever loved watching, not to mention the person he is off the field. He’s also the reason my favourite number is 3! But outside of AFL, no one could ever disagree with Roger Federer. It will be a very sad day when he retires. I love tennis and watching him play live is a genuine eye-opener. He’s an incredible person with an amazing manner, a real asset to the sporting audience world-wide. I think many people could learn a lesson or two from him.

What’s the best thing about life right now?

I’m incredibly lucky to share my life with the lovely people that I have around me. Having a good support network is so important, and the best thing about my life right now is that mine is the best! I have a very close family and they have been involved in my journey since the start. Mum and Dad are the reason I’ve achieved what I have and why I’ve developed into the person I am. It’s a real reflection of their characters and values.

I often get asked what the biggest thing is that I’ve taken away from my experiences, and for me it’s the fact that I’ve been so fortunate to meet a lot of special people in my life. Many of them have become friends, even inspirations, which I value greatly. Having these people in my life is what makes it so enjoyable.

What’s your mantra?

Success doesn’t come easy, if it did, there wouldn’t be champions.

 

Amy Sayer

SPORT: Football

CURRENT TEAM: Matildas (Australian Women’s team)

TOWN OF ORIGIN: Sydney, NSW

SPORTING ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

▶ Made the Matildas’ squad for the 2018 Tournament of Nations in the USA (at 16 years of age).

▶ Made her national debut for the Matildas against Japan in the tournament.

▶ Youngest girl to play for the National Under 20s team (14 years old, in the 2016-2017 season).

 

Amy Sayer Women's Football Star

Amy Sayer; pictured wearing the Samsung Gear Sport Fitness Tracker – available at Harvey Norman.

 

Who inspired you to take up football?

My brother was playing football for a local club and I wanted to join in so much that my mum signed me up with some of my kindergarten school friends and I’ve never looked back. I used to be a swimmer and did athletics and cross country, but as my football schedule and training started to get busier, I had to decide which one I wanted to pursue. I love the team aspect of football rather than just being an individual because there is less pressure and it’s always fun to be around like-minded people.

Why is playing football as a woman no longer the challenge that it once was?

When I started I was one of the few girls who played with boys and there was no separate competition for girls. I kept pushing the boundaries, being the only girl in boys’ rep football, then one of only a few selected in a boys’ elite programme at Football NSW (I got knocked back the first year I trialled).

Now girls can choose whether they play in mixed or girls-only comps. There are also girls’ elite programmes from 8-years-old. With the Matildas doing so well the general public is right behind us – and football has the highest participation rate amongst girls of any sport.

With new wage agreements for the Matildas and in the W-League, it is a very real career option and women don’t have to take part time jobs in order to represent their country. We can be full time professional athletes.

How do you define strength?

Strength is beating the odds, constantly being knocked down and getting up to do it all again. It is getting knocked back by selectors and coming back better and stronger until they can’t ignore you anymore. I was cut from the state team when I was 13, one year later I was representing Australia in the U20s as the youngest player at 14-years-old.

It’s not only about playing elite sport, it’s about being true to yourself even when it’s not the popular choice.

True strength is saying no to dessert when you are in training!

What gets you out of bed and to training?

Usually my alarm clock, but really the desire to win and be my best self. I just love what I do, and that’s what motivates me.

What’s your ultimate sporting goal?

To not only represent Australia at the highest level in a World Cup and at the Olympics, but to also win them and score a goal in the finals. I want to be the best in the world.

What do you say to people who say that men’s sport is more interesting than women’s?

I usually just ignore them, but clearly if they’re insulting women’s sports from their living room I just laugh and ask ‘who are they and what have they done?’

When things go wrong, what do you say to yourself to keep going?

I always give my best, even when I know that I’m not playing well. I remind myself that some things are just out of my control and it might be a bad day. When things are not going well, I ask myself how much I am willing to sacrifice for this sport, which brings me right back to the training field to improve.

At what age will you give up sport?

I don’t think I will ever give up sport. I might stop playing football at an elite level, but I will keep going until I can’t continue any more. I will always play some form of sport because I’m a very active person – I love the adrenaline rush and the competitiveness of it.

Who is your role model?

I look up to all of the Matildas because of the odds and adversity they have overcome to pursue football at the highest level in Australia. Before the collective bargaining agreement they negotiated, all of the Matildas struggled to hold part-time jobs in conjunction with a full-time football career because the sport just wasn’t providing basic necessities to support their lives.

Within the Matildas, I look up to Chloe Logarzo and Lisa de Vanna because I have played with them and they took care of me when I went into camp in America. I really respect Lisa as a player and mentor; her commitment and passion for her country and for the game is something I really admire. Chloe Logarzo is also always happy to give me feedback when I need it and I love playing with her.

Alex Chidiac was the up-and-coming player when I was still developing and she was one I began to follow because I love the way she plays. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with her the past couple of years and she is one of the nicest people I have met and I’m proud to call her a friend.

Outside of sport I admire my mother, she has worked hard her whole life to give me so many opportunities to pursue anything that I want. She has always been my greatest supporter and glorified chauffeur and I love her for it.

I admire anyone who is pushing the boundaries for what they believe.

What would be your advice for a young girl trying to become a professional athlete?

Love what you do above all else. It’s not easy and there are always challenges to test your resolve. Believe in yourself and work hard. I’m one of those weird people who love training almost as much as I love game day. I’m always striving to get better.

What has been your most challenging obstacle?

Balancing school work with elite sport. I set myself the same high standards at school and sometimes they clash. Last year I was away from school for nearly 6 months with football commitments and living away from home. My teachers sent me school work and assignments and I had to teach myself maths and science and sit my exams remotely.

Next year I have to sit the HSC and I don’t know what country I will be in at the time.

Any regrets?

There have never been any regrets, but there are some things – such as never being able to make any social events or see your friends – that make you start questioning what you are trying to achieve. However, I always end up rolling back in the mud and loving every second of it.

What’s your mantra?

Love what you do no matter what level of sport you play and anything that you achieve after that is a bonus. To play at an elite level you have to work harder than anyone else, but if you love it then it’s really not work. There are always people who want to pull you down, but ignore them and believe in yourself. Ask yourself, ‘How much much do you want it? How much are you willing to sacrifice?’

 

Beth Dewhurst

SPORT: Basketball

CURRENT TEAM:  Hills Hornets U18 Girls

TOWN OF ORIGIN: Sydney, NSW

SPORTING ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

▶ Middle School All-Round Sports Achiever (2016).

▶ Coastal Classic Basketball Tournament Winner (2015).

▶ Hill Zone Sports Association Athletics Runner-up Champion (2016 & 2017).

 

Beth Dewhurst Women's Basketball Star

Beth Dewhurst; pictured wearing the Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smart Watch with Activity Tracking – available at Harvey Norman.

 

What made you choose basketball?

I used to watch my dad play and ever since then I have had a love for basketball. I can’t stop playing it – I love shooting, dribbling and defending – all of it.

Why is playing basketball as a woman no longer the challenge that it once was?

There are more associations and companies who fund women’s basketball teams, which has led to more opportunities being available. The more opportunities there are, the more girls are going to keep playing.

What gets you out of bed and to training?

Knowing that I get to see my friends and even though it’s training, I’m still playing the game I love. Plus, the coach makes it fun!

What’s your ultimate sporting goal?

To represent Australia in Basketball – especially at the Olympics.

What do you say to people who say that men’s basketball is more interesting than women’s?

Have you watched women’s basketball? You can’t really compare the two as they both play very differently, but you’d be surprised to see that women’s basketball can be more aggressive and competitive – so you’re missing out if you just watch the men.

When things go wrong, what do you say to yourself to keep going?

Keep your head up high and keep playing as you are, because things will eventually work out. I know there’s always next year – I just have to keep going.

At what age will you give up sport?

No time soon – in fact, hopefully never. My brother who has Down Syndrome comes to all my games and he loves watching me play as much I love having him come. I’m not going to let either of us down.

Who inspired you to take up basketball?

My dad inspired me to take up basketball and fought hard to have a girls’ basketball team in primary school. I’ve inherited ‘the fight’ from him.

What would be your advice for a young girl trying to become a professional athlete?

If society limits you, just break those limits and go pursue your dream

What’s your mantra?

Just keep your head up high!

 

Emily Chancellor

SPORT: Rugby Union

CURRENT TEAM: Wallaroos (Australian Women’s Team) | Super W NSW Squad | Sydney University Rugby Team

TOWN OF ORIGIN: Sydney, NSW

SPORTING ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

▶ Debuted for the Australian National Team in 2018.

▶ Received a test match Best and Fairest in debut match (Wallaroos v NZ Blackferns, 2018).

▶ Captain of the Australian World University Team (2016).

 

Emily Chancellor Women's Rugby Union Star

Emily Chancellor; pictured wearing the Fitbit Versa Fitness Watch in Periwinkle & Rose Gold – available exclusively at Harvey Norman.

 

What made you choose rugby union?

One day, my best friend and I were watching a netball game together, when we simultaneously received emails from our uni promoting the ‘Road to Rio’. The email was all about learning to play rugby 7s, as part of the push for the Olympics.

Given that we both grew up in families that watched rugby and went to Waratah’s games, we said to each other, ‘I’ll try it if you will!’, and, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to learn how to tackle someone?!’ So, off we went – and we loved it!

Why is playing sport as a woman no longer the challenge that it once was?

It is still a challenge, but it is gradually changing. With society starting to see women as being capable of doing the same things men are, opportunities keep emerging! Companies that take the ‘risk’ to invest in women’s sport are seeing the value – and the more exposure women’s sport gets to the public, the more it will continue to grow!

How do you define strength?

Strength can be power, but it has to come from belief and hard work.

What gets you out of bed and to training?

My team mates. I never want to let anyone down in my team and I love training with the girls. We push each other to get better all the time.

What’s your ultimate sporting goal?

To play for the Wallaroos in the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

What do you say to people who say that men’s sport is more interesting than women’s?

Tough one. I still enjoy watching men’s sport more than women’s, but that is just because it’s what we have the most access to. This will continue to change as women’s sport becomes more professional and the exposure of women’s sport grows. The reality is that men are still in a position where they have trained for longer and are given more support than women, so naturally the standard across the board is often better, but that gap is closing – and quickly at that!

When things go wrong, what keeps you going?

If being an athlete was smooth sailing and not challenging, everyone would be one! You have to love the process and take the setbacks or speed bumps as a time to reflect on what you are doing and why. 

They normally just make me hungrier for the end goal and to get back out there and keep enjoying it.

At what age will you give up sport?

Who knows? Age is just a number. If the body will keep holding up and I still love playing, why would I stop?

Any regrets?

My only regret is something I can’t control – and that’s that I wish I was born 20 or 30 years later, so I could experience the bright future of women’s sport. If I was born today, I could have grown up playing rugby rather than only starting at about 22.

What inspired you to take up rugby union?

I used to sit in the stands at Waratah’s games watching the likes of Chris Whitaker, Tom Carter, Lote Tuqiri, Drew Mitchell and Berrick Barnes, hoping that they would kick the ball out and I would catch it. I even used to dream about them asking me to jump on the field and play with them – mind you, at this stage I would have been about 7! I guess this is where it all started.

What would be your advice for a young girl trying to become a professional athlete?

Do it because you enjoy the sport you are playing. Don’t do it for the fame or just to say you have – you have to enjoy the process. Any of the professionalism or accolades you receive is just an added bonus to help you do something you love!

What has been the most challenging obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

The two most challenging obstacles have probably been breaking my foot in November 2017 and also trying to balance training, life and full time work. All worth it though!  

What’s your mantra?

Love the process. The destination is the sugar on top.

 

Hanna Clare

SPORT:  Rugby League

CURRENT POSITION: Referee at Manly Warringah Rugby League Referees’ Association

TOWN OF ORIGIN: Sydney, NSW

SPORTING ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

▶ Refereeing a Grand Final at Brookvale Oval in her first year of officiating during 2017.

▶ Participating in and promoting the NRL Women in League Round 2018.

▶ First Junior to be awarded ‘Best Patrol Member’ at Long Reef Surf Life Saving Club (2017/18 season).

 

Hanna Clare Rugby League Referee

Hanna Clare; pictured wearing the Samsung Galaxy Watch 42mm – available at Harvey Norman.

 

What inspired you to get involved in rugby league?

I would watch my brother play and I really enjoyed the games. Refereeing gave me the opportunity to get involved. I thought, “How cool would that be, why not”? – and I’ve never looked back.

What inspired you to take up refereeing instead of playing?

It’s the difference referees make that inspired me. Players all want to play, but without the referee there would be no game.

When did you start refereeing?

I started refereeing two years ago, this is my second season. Learning the ropes started with online modules, followed by face-to-face sessions and then just getting out on the field.

What gets you out of bed and to training?

It’s the vision of seeing that end goal of what I want to do and how far I can go in the sport.

What’s your ultimate sporting goal?

My ultimate goal would be to referee in the NRL.

What do you say to people who say the men’s rugby league is better than women’s?

That they are wrong – of course they are wrong! Most people saying that wouldn’t have even watched a females’ game.

At what age will you give up sport?

Never, never.  Sport is something that gives me purpose and a goal. It’s something that makes me happy.  I couldn’t do without sport and the fitness and companionship that goes with it.

How do you define strength?

Strength is waking up every morning with a purpose and doing something positive.

Who are your role models?

Kasey Badger and Belinda Sleeman, who are the first two female referees to officiate in the NRL. Hats off to them, they are doing a great job.  I’ve met Kasey and we’ve worked together, which was a really great experience.

Is it true that you have to be fitter than everyone on the field as a referee, because you run twice as far?

That’s true. It’s not as easy as it is first perceived. I’m concentrating, focused and ready to make a decision, plus I run twice as far and have to be alert at all times.

What kind of training do you have to do as a referee?

We train pre-season, then once a week as a group at club level. When you get to representative level, training is more intense and every day.

Is being a female referee the challenge that it once was?

It’s definitely been made easier with the support we have from the NRL at grass roots level, which is really good. We have a whole network of support and it’s not as hard as it used to be – it’s a lot easier with the level of professionalism that surrounds us.

Are the girls around you playing sport?

Yes, most of my girlfriends outside of refereeing are into soccer, touch football, AFL, gymnastics, netball, surfing, Surf Life Saving and sport in general.  The referees group are some of my closest friends, probably because of what we go through collectively. We live the good and the not so good times together.

What would be your advice to a young girl trying to become a professional athlete?

Give it a go. It’s something that gives you purpose, it’s something that gets you up in the morning, and it’s something that you’d be crazy not to try. It’s a great way of life.

 

Maddy Dunston

SPORT: Aussie Racing Cars

CURRENT TEAM: Pitstop Racing Team

TOWN OF ORIGIN: Townsville, QLD

SPORTING ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

▶ Winner of the QLD Karting Championship 2014.

▶ Current leading woman in Aussie Racing Series 2018.

▶ Winner of the Baskerville Raceway Championships.

 

Maddy Dunston - Aussie Racing Cars Star

Maddy Dunston; pictured wearing the Fitbit Ionic Fitness Watch – available at Harvey Norman.

 

What made you choose racing?

Growing up, my dad was racing Go-Karts, so I’d go to the track and be his ‘pitcrew’. I always wanted to have a go – it looked like so much fun – but I wasn’t old enough. Then, on my 7th birthday, Dad got me my very first go kart!

I took it around the track for the first time, but, plot twist… the engine wasn’t even on! Dad pushed me around the whole track because I was so nervous. Finally I got the confidence to go around myself and I fell in love straight away. So, really, it’s all thanks to Dad. He is the reason I am here today.

Why is racing as a woman no longer the challenge that it once was?

At the start of my racing career, I found it quite difficult and strange being a female in a male dominated sport. The boys didn’t like me very much and would always push me around on the track if I was being competitive. However, I feel that being a female in the sport no longer effects me at all. These days it seems so natural. Along the years, the males have gradually accepted it and now we’re all treated equally on and off track – but, girls are still cooler!

What gets you out of bed and to training?

Motivation is what gets me out of bed in the morning. I love training and it feels so good afterwards – knowing it’s helping with my career is incredible. Being a race car driver is very hard if you don’t train – you need that core strength and overall fitness is definitely a priority.

What’s your ultimate sporting goal?

I have too many goals! My ultimate goal would have to be to become a supercar driver and be the first ever female to win a supercars race.

What do you say to people who say that they would prefer to watch males race?

People who say that obviously haven’t watched a female race! It is so intense and so cool and unique to see both genders competing in the same sport!

When things go wrong, how do you motivate yourself to keep going?

I tell myself to never give up and I look to the people that support and believe in me – especially my dad. He is always pushing me and making sure I am trying my hardest!

At what age will you give up sport?

I will never give up – I don’t even want to think about giving up right now! I still have so much to do in my racing career.

Who inspired you to take up racing?

My father inspired me to take up motorsport racing. Looking up to him as I was growing up and seeing how many sacrifices he made for my racing was incredible. He is the main person that pushes me and I never want to let him down.

What would be your advice for a young girl trying to become a professional athlete?

My advice would be to train hard and expect the unexpected. Begin slowly – Go Karting is a great way to start in motorsport, whether it’s just for fun or with a desire for it to become a career. Just believe in yourself and you will get there, trust me!

Who is your sporting idol?

My role model is Simona De Silvestro. The way she races and how precise she is on track is incredible! I actually spent a day down in Melbourne with her and she was so inspirational. She spoke to me about everything from racing and marketing, to engineering and fitness!

What’s the best thing about life right now?

Everything in my life right now is what I’ve always wanted. I couldn’t be happier!  Racing is the best thing in my life and everything is going so smoothly. I’m so excited to see what my future holds!

What’s your mantra?

Never give up!

 

All members of Team Harvey are pictured wearing Fitness Trackers & Smartwatches from Harvey Norman’s Smart Fitness Technology.