AIS to help stars with life after sport

A new group of 22 female athletes have been selected for the AIS' Accelerate program, supporting professional development to further their career prospects.

CAITLIN BASSETT.
CAITLIN BASSETT. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Former Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett finds the thought of life after netball "terrifying".

But given Bassett has dodgy knees, no Super Netball contract and the Diamonds are currently playing their Quad series in England, she can see the writing on the wall.

The star shooter is among 22 women enrolled in the Australian Institute of Sport's Accelerate program, which supports their professional development.

The program aims to get more women into leadership roles within sport and is in its second year, with the first induction featuring stars such as hurdler Sally Pearson, soccer's Michelle Heyman and tennis player Casey Dellacqua.

Cycling legend Anna Meares and four-time Olympian Dani Stevens will join Bassett in this year's induction, which will also feature six athletes from last year's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

"I'm highly aware it's not going to last forever," Bassett said.

"With the injuries I have, I want to do everything possible to find that opportunity for work, and gain mentors and look to those who have done it before.

"I'm stoked to be involved with it, not just for the opportunities it produces but to network with the other athletes involved. The females involved are absolutely incredible and I can't wait to pick their brains."

Transitioning from "athlete to human", the 100-Test Diamond said using the skills that made sportswomen special in other areas was key.

"I want to find my strengths, values, and find an area that suits me, using my experience as an athlete in the business world ... to use what I've done as an athlete for the last 18 years," she said.

Ground covered includes debriefing the athletic experience, networking, developing a career plan and leadership development.

The program is supported by $3.4 million in funding as part of the Women's Leaders in Sport program.

Australian Sports Commission chair Josephine Sukkar said the new cohort would make strong contributions to the future of Australian sport.

"Retaining the experience and skills of women athletes after they retire is crucial to the continued success of Australian sport," Ms Sukkar said.

"The experience formed from representing your country at this level is invaluable and it is important that we make sure this experience is utilised to help guide and shape Australian sport into the future."