Away from the netball court, Fiona Fowler is inspiring and teaching the next generations of netballers. However, as Fiona shares, students can also have an influence on a teacher’s life.
Utilising her Bachelor of Education, Fiona coordinates the Pedare Christian College Specialist Netball Program, and each Wednesday you will find her at Priceline Stadium as a teacher for the South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy (SAASTA) Aboriginal Netball Academy.
The aim of the Academy is to support the 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls in years 10 to 12 who are part of the program to raise the bar of expectation they place on themselves and their peers in areas such as educational achievement and participation, whilst continuing their netball development.
While Fiona is the teacher, she said the program and the students have taught her so much.
“I absolutely love being involved in SAASTA, the girls have started calling me Aunty Fi, which is pretty cute and a sign of respect,” she said.
“In the morning I co-teach Aboriginal Studies, and in the afternoon, we go out on to the courts for netball skills.
“When I first learnt Aboriginal Studies, my eyes were opened. When I was a school student our curriculum only covered the colonisation of Australia.
“I think it’s so important for everyone to learn about our Indigenous history, the way of life and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the strong family and community values they have.
“There is a lot they can teach us. I know I have learnt a lot from the girls and how they go about life.”
Before Fiona and her Adelaide Thunderbirds teammates took on the Collingwood Magpies in Round 10, a SAASTA Representative Team will play in the curtain raiser.
“The girls were excited and it’s a lovely reward for all the hard work they’ve done this year so far,” Fiona said.
When deciding whether to make the move to the Adelaide Thunderbirds for the 2017 season, Fiona said the year six students she was teaching at the time in Melbourne influenced her decision.
“When I was deciding to come over I was a primary school teacher and I had a year six class. I was chatting with them about whether I should move or not, because the move to Adelaide meant I would be giving up a lot,” she said.
Like many professional sports people, Fiona finds herself living away from her loved ones. In the pre-season leading up to the 2017 season she married her high school sweetheart Jack, who lives in Melbourne with the couple’s Dalmatian.
“As their teacher I was a role model for the kids and it was important for me to show them that at 26 years of age I was chasing my dream,” she said.
“It also took me a long time to get to this level – I wasn’t exactly your youngest rookie coming into the Thunderbirds environment, but over the years I never gave up.”
Fiona said Jack is very supportive of her decision to live and play netball in Adelaide.
“Your netball career is such a short time-frame of your life and I want to make the most of it. I am blessed to be able to have this opportunity.”
The Adelaide Thunderbirds next home game is on Sunday 22 July against Sunshine Coast Lightning. Make sure you’re in the stands – book your tickets today!