Former Australian Seven's star, Emilee Cherry is set to forge a new path following her retirement from professional Rugby before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Today, the 2016 Gold Medal winner was confirmed as a recipient of an inaugural program headed up by the Australian Institute of Sport to promote athletes transitioning from playing to coaching, emphasising female coaches.
Cherry is among five women and a total of 19 coaches chosen for the AIS Elevate Athlete2Coach program. In total, the programs comprise 47 coaches from 27 different sports, including Paralympic specialists.
Olympic gold medallist and former Sevens World Series star Emilee Cherry announced her playing retirement in February this year and has since been coaching with the NSW Rugby's Development Academy.
Cherry has experienced first-hand the progress for women athletes in recent years and said it was encouraging to see more professional development opportunities created for women in other sports roles.
"Women's sport has exploded for players in recent years, but there's been a lag in having more women in coaching and senior management roles," Cherry said.
"I'm sure there will be a flow-on effect of more women players into coaching and other roles within sport.
"Coaching is a new pathway for me, but I've learned from great coaches throughout my career, I've always loved the tactical side of the game, and I have a teaching degree.
"I think this AIS program will help me develop in other skill areas coaches need, like player management. I'm so grateful for the support I've received from the AIS and Rugby Australia."
Federal Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck said it was another positive step towards increasing the prominence of elite women leaders in sport.
“It was incredible to see a record majority of female athletes represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympics and win the bulk of medals but, along with the leadership of the AIS, the Australian Government is committed to addressing the under-representation of women in other sporting roles, particularly coaching,” Minister Colbeck said.
“The individuals selected for these AIS Elevate coaching programs are now undertaking an intensive six-month course, but it is part of a longer-term vision to increase the diversity in our Australian coaching ranks so the make-up of our sporting leaders is more reflective of the athletes they guide and the nation they represent.
"Many of these coaches will be dedicated to identifying and progressing our most talented young athletes and there is a huge incentive on the horizon with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics on home soil.”
Cherry was a founding member of the full-time program in 2012, making her international debut on the World Series in Dubai, in what was the first-ever HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series tournament. Cherry has since gone on to collect 31 caps for Australia on the world circuit.
In the 2013-2014 season, Cherry was voted World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year and was one of the linchpins in Australia’s successful 2016 campaign at the Rio Olympic Games.
The 28-year-old is one of only two Australian players to score over 700 points on the World Series, amassing a career total of 719 points (131 tries, 32 goals), making her the seventh highest point scorer in history.
Cherry is also one of only six Australian players to play in over thirty World Series tournaments, with victories in San Paulo (2014 & 2016), Dubai (2013, 2015 & 2017), London (2015), Atlanta (2016) and finally on home soil in Sydney in 2018.
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Having more recently worked alongside NSW Rugby’s Development Academy following the birth of her daughter, Cherry was also announced as a member of the coaching of the Oceania Barbarians side during the 2020 Pacific Aus Sport Olympic trials in Townsville back in June.
Australian Sports Commission Chair Josephine Sukkar said the new coaching programs were in addition to other AIS programs launched this year focused on women leaders in sport.
“The AIS currently has two other programs underway to support the advancement of women in leadership roles, the AIS Talent Program focused on women in sport science, technology engineering and medicine, and the AIS Accelerate program which aims to increase career pathway options in sport for retiring women athletes.
“The Australian Sports Commission, including the AIS and Sport Australia, is determined to see more girls and women in sport, from playing fields to board rooms. We are focused on strategies and programs that can help attract, retain and elevate more women in sport, across all roles and all sports. The 33 women involved in these two new Elevate Coach programs are linked with 23 different sports, which means these targeted development programs can have wide-spread impact.”