Grace Gill’s recent election to the board of Capital Football has provided her with an incredible opportunity to promote growth within the game she has dedicated almost two decades of her life to. However, the pitch is just the beginning for Gill; her goals for the beautiful game run much deeper.
“The Board position had been on my radar for a while and a couple of positions were opening up through Director terms coming to an end,” the Matildas’ alumna said of her election.
“I was eager to influence and provide input to an organisation that has been a part of my life and career for a long time. I feel so honoured to have been elected into a space where I believe I can make a positive contribution, both in Canberra and more broadly across Australia.”
Gill said she is keen to represent a strong female voice in the room, although firmly feels that it’s not just about being a woman – but about having the right people contributing to the conversations that need to be had.
Her on-field experience speaks for itself. Earning four caps with the Young Matildas before making her transition to the big stage against Hong Kong in 2007, Gill is no stranger to representing her country. She also boasts an eight-year stint with Canberra United in the W-League, including 58 appearances and two W-League titles before she retired in 2016.
Gill’s post-football pathway carries an equal amount of weight. Wanting to stay connected to the game she loves, not only has Gill continued playing at a local level for Canberra FC in the NPLW, she now contributes to the W-League from behind the mic.
“I’d done a couple of commentary and MC gigs in the past, but the 2018/19 W-League season provided me with an incredible opportunity to establish myself, calling the Canberra United home games and working with Fox Sports,” Gill said
“I’m absolutely loving it, it’s an environment I feel both challenges and stretches me, but one I also feel I have settled into really comfortably.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some great people who are brilliant at what they do – I’m learning a lot and loving every minute!”
The road out of elite sport can be a daunting one, but Gill is a great example of transitioning on-field success into real-world skills.
“The pathway out of sport is one that’s so much harder than the one on your way in,” she shared.
“It’s a conversation that I’ve been having with those close to me for many years now and we are seeing it spoken about increasingly which is great, but there is still a lot of progress to be made.”
Gill says it is imperative for these pathways to be both visible and accessible to women in sport.
“Highlighting that there is such opportunity on the other side of the game – whether it’s in a governance capacity, as a coach, administrator, official or a media and communications role is extremely valuable for women to not only see but have access to.”
In a climate where the influence of sportspeople is much debated, Gill’s voice is a vital addition.
She has the unique ability to relate to many on a personal level. Sharing intimate moments on social media, such as her recent marriage to goalkeeper and former Canberra United player, Chantel Jones. The 29-year-old acts as a role model who lives life genuinely and authentically, showing the younger generation the importance of being both proud of and true to yourself.
“We are so lucky that as sportspeople, we have a real opportunity to directly influence and positively shape the way young people think. It is so important for kids to have visibility of positive role models, because they will naturally model their behaviour on that standard.”
“With this platform comes a responsibility that we owe to our younger selves to deliver on and this is something I’ve always felt so important to do for younger players,” she said.
“The difference it makes to check in with a younger player at training and taking the time to say ‘hi’ can completely change their experience in that environment,” she continued.
“I was so fortunate to be surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family, which allowed me to be comfortable within myself.
“That’s not to say it was something that happened overnight. It takes time, understanding, getting it wrong and a whole lot of self-discovery. I feel extremely lucky and am very grateful for the amazing people who make up my world.”
Originally published for Beyond90.com.au