Like so many others across the country, Shenali Subasinghe dreamed of being able to one day work in sport as a full-time profession.
After finishing high school, the self-stated “cricket girl”, and up and coming junior basketball coach did not know how exactly she could make the dream happen.
Shenali took a leap of faith and followed in the footsteps of an older friend to join the Richmond Institute in 2018, a decision she now says was a good one.
Shenali has since secured permanent part-time work at Richmond’s Tigerland Superstore and having graduated from the Richmond Institute of Sports Leadership (RISL) is now studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in Sport Management at Swinburne University of Technology.
And while Shenali is a Richmond Institute success story, football is still not her preferred sport, putting a halt to any perception that the course is solely for AFL lovers.
“People might think it is all about footy or that we don’t do much else, but the teachers cover quite a range of sport with their mentorship and that really helped,” she said.
“The course gave me a lot of experience in the sports industry and I was able to learn so much. Everything we did gave me the confidence to put myself forward and to teach other people.”
Shenali is the current head coach of the Casey Cavaliers U12 Division 1 Girls Basketball team, a feat she was able to reach through her time at RISL where she often leaned on WNBL basketballer and RISL Student Success Coordinator Amelia Todhunter.
“I did some coaching previously before going into the course but then last year I actually was able to become an assistant coach for an u/16 boys team and then I coached a “twos” team which has led me now to head coaching a “1s” team,” she said.
“I am 100 per cent a better coach now and so much more confident. I would not have been able to coach such a high-level team if it were not for the course.”
Other mentors currently engaged in the course include former WNBL champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Lauren Jackson (Albury-Wodonga), four-time Winter Olympian Lydia Lassila and World Champion Australian Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander. The course prides itself on being able to cater for a wide scope of interests within the industry.
Throughout Shenali’s time with the Richmond Institute, the Swinburne student also secured a role at Richmond’s fully owned subsidiary business Aligned Leisure, working at Cardinia Life in Pakenham.
“I learnt so much through Aligned which was really cool. We basically dealt with everything (involved with) swim school, gym, basketball, netball and memberships,” she said.
“There are so many opportunities and different roles within Aligned which is awesome for us (Richmond Institute students and graduates).”
Another key opportunity given to students that has proved greatly beneficial to Shenali’s career aspirations was an India trip, where students had the chance to immerse themselves in Indian culture and teach the game of Australian Rules Football.
“It was amazing. I think you kind of assume there is sport all around the world but you go to these areas and they don’t know a thing because it is not what they have grown up with,” Shenali explained.
“To be able to teach a little bit of something that we do here was a blessing really, it was really cool.”
“To be honest I don’t know a lot about footy, I was learning off the people with me and then teaching it to them (the local Indian’s) just the basic skills which was really good for my confidence for future coaching.”
The eager to learn student also completed internships at Melbourne Storm, Event Workforce Group and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup during her time with RISL.
“It is such a competitive industry, but I think this course gives you the exposure and networking opportunities you need (to succeed),” Shenali said.
“It might sound a bit cheesy, but you will get out what you put in, I think I am where I am because I put in the hard work.”
For more information on the course visit https://www.richmondinstitute.com.au/