Students from Sydney Catholic schools reflect on the role sport plays in their wellbeing
Zachariah Hill, a Year 5 student at St Michael’s Catholic Primary Lane Cove,
is a multi-class athlete with a TF43 classification, who took up shot put and discus a year ago. Representing MacKillop at the NSW PSSA State Athletics Championships in October he won gold in the shot put.
“My sports teacher Mrs Boland encouraged me to take part in athletics and I love that it has given me the opportunity to find out my true potential as I have been limited in what I have been able to do. It is also fun and exciting to compete. It builds my confidence by teaching me to better myself and not be restricted by my disability.”
Alexa Yu, a Year 6 student at Holy Spirit Catholic Primary North Ryde is a champion diver, who recently competed at the Schools Sports Australia Diving Competition at Lightning Ridge.
The former gymnast says she loves a lot of things about diving.
“I love building on new skills and the things it teaches me about me. I even love the strength training! But what I love most is being part of a team and the friendships I have made and the opportunities it gives me travel to different places around Australia like Lightning Ridge in outback NSW. Diving gives me opportunities that I would not ordinarily have. Diving makes me happy and I love keeping fit. When I have a healthy body I have a healthy mind which makes me happy.”
Lucas Vallejo, a Year 6 student at St Bernard’s Catholic Primary School Botany has been learning karate since he was six. In August this year he came first in the under 12s division at the 2016 Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation (SKIF) World Championships.
“The thing I like about karate is the fact that I can enjoy time with friends. It also helps me concentrate on school work, and my marks are showing a great improvement. Karate has allowed me to meet new friends and to travel to some really good places, like Indonesia.
“Karate keeps me fit and healthy and it allows me to be physically active after school and develop muscles and coordination skills. It also allows me to think about my feelings and keep my thoughts positive. Karate keeps me disciplined, focused, fit and healthy.”
Sharon Britto is a Year 6 student at All Saints Catholic Primary Liverpool, who started playing tennis when she was six and competing in tournaments at 9.
“I love the feeling of the ball leave my racquet, travelling around Australia and experiencing the different challenges that I endure during different matches that I play in tournaments,” says Sharon.
“Tennis helps me to keep my cool during difficult situations, not only during the match but also in my daily problems. Tennis has also kept me fit and able to move around very energetically. Sure sometimes I experience body pain, but I’ve learnt that if there’s no pain there’s no gain. Tennis has changed my way of looking at life as development-focused not results-focused. Tennis is the best thing that I do in my life and I wouldn’t be anywhere without my parents and my coaches, not to forget the support that I get from my school.”
Orla Spruhan, a Year 10 student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College Kensington has participated in a range of physical activities since she was a small child including dancing, swimming, netball, touch football, water polo, Australian Rules Football and Jungle Gym.
“I feel good after I play a sport,” says Orla. “AFL is my favourite. I like the tackling and how it makes you run a lot and that it’s very physically challenging. It’s the most team-focused sport I have played and I like that the coaches are really strict about being there for your teammates. It makes me feel really included and part of the team, and I put in more effort because I am not just playing for myself but for the team. I also love the water; it’s so refreshing and I like to go to Maroubra Beach with Dad and swim in Mahon Pool or hang out the back and just float and relax.
“With school there’s lot of pressure but when you are training or you are playing a game of AFL you are not really thinking about that, and it feels good if you do a good tackle or kick a goal. It takes the pressure off and is fun. After I exercise or when I have a surf or swim I feel energised especially being out in the sun and outdoors.
Emma Ziegenfusz, a Year 12 student at St John Bosco College Engadine, has been involved in sport – soccer, swimming, dancing – since she was four. She currently plays soccer for Bosco FC, Oztag and works out at the school gym three times a week.
‘I enjoy sport and exercising because she I am interacting with friends at the same time as doing something good for myself,” says Emma. “I play soccer both winter and summer for Bosco FC and my team is very close as many of us go to school together, and have been playing together since we were five. Our training sessions are full of laughter and jokes and we encourage each other and push each other to be better.
“In the mornings at the gym, I may be tired at first but once I’m there and after I’ve finished my workout I feel so much more energised and ready for school. After physical activity I feel like I’ve accomplished something. It has made me improve on an educational level, a social level in meeting people, and mentally I feel refreshed by exercise.
Jamie Lawler, a Year 9 student at Marist Catholic College Penshurst is a keen sportsman, who has represented his school, Christian Brothers Sports Association (CBSA) and NSW Combined Catholic Colleges (NSWCCC) in athletics, cross country, touch football and rugby league.
Jamie says when he plays sport he feels like a whole different person.
“Sport is a way to relax and get away from the more important things in my life. It also gives me a way to spend more time with my friends and to meet new friends. It helps my wellbeing in many different ways – it’s fun and it provides me with leadership skills that I use in day-to-day life. Playing sport also provides me with good role models and makes me a better overall person.”