GAF Story

Simone Nalder

RMIT University
Bachelor of Applied Science (Physical Education)

Simone Nalder, RMIT University scholar

From playing netball in the Victorian Netball League and the Australian Netball League to competing in the VFL Women's League, Simone fills us in on her busy schedule. 

Congratulations on Essendon’s recent first win in VFL Women’s! Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up playing for Essendon?

Thank you! It was very exciting to sing our song together for the first time!

I began playing AFL last year with the Darebin Falcon’s Division One team. Shortly after the season finished, I received a call from an old university friend, Lauren Morecroft. She had just been appointed as the playing assistant coach of the inaugural Essendon VFLW team. Loz said they were looking for a ruck and wondering if I would be interested in trialling!

Aside from playing in the VFLW, what else have you been up to since graduating?

I graduated in mid-2014 (it doesn't seem that long ago!) I immediately began working full-time at Our Lady of Mercy College in Heidelberg as a Health and PE teacher. I played netball in the Victorian Netball League and the Australian Netball League, as well as working and volunteered at netball clinics during the school holidays.

Last year I moved schools from Our Lady of Mercy College to Yarra Valley Grammar and made the switch to AFL.

How do you manage to balance your football career with your professional life?

I have a very busy lifestyle - but I really enjoy it! When I’m working, I am fully focussed on that. When I walk into training or arrive at a game, I switch off from everything else and enjoy pushing myself physically, developing my skills, learning as much as I can about the game and enjoying the amazing culture our group has.

Were you playing sports while you were at uni? How do you think having an active sports life contributed to your studies?

I played netball in both the Victorian Netball League and the Australian Netball League whilst at uni. Sport is amazing for so many reasons - I strongly believe physical, mental and social health are all enhanced through sport. Being at optimal health then enabled me to perform very well academically.

How did a George Alexander Foundation scholarship benefit your time at uni?

It was extremely helpful, and I am still so grateful I received support from The George Alexander Foundation.

It helped me in many ways. I had to move out of home from Shepparton to Melbourne to pursue both my tertiary studies and sporting goals. I devoted most of my time to my studies, sporting pursuits and volunteering at coaching clinics. The scholarship allowed me to spend my time in these ways rather than having to work as frequently. As a result, I performed very well academically, played netball at the elite level and enthusiastically contributed to my local community through coaching clinics.

While you were studying, you did quite a bit of voluntary coaching and training work. Can you tell us about that and whether you still find the time for volunteer work?

Yes - a great benefit of the scholarship was that I had the time to put my energy into other interests. I am passionate about working with youth to develop their love of an active and healthy lifestyle hence my desire to become a Health and PE teacher! I volunteered at a number of netball training academies and clinics during university. We ran a development academy through my club Diamond Creek North East Blaze. We also ran holiday clinics for youths as well.

Due to a lack of time, I don't do as much volunteer work as I used to. However, I will be assisting with our U/13 girls AFL development academy at Essendon in the coming weeks.

You're originally from Shepparton. Do you see yourself moving back to regional Victoria in the future?

I can't see myself moving back to Shepparton at this stage. My parents have retired to the coast, two of my siblings live there, and my boyfriend and I love the beach, so we will eventually move down there!

What's coming up for you? What does the future hold?

I am not sure what will come next! I am too busy living in the moment and enjoying myself right now.