Matildas defensive midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight surprised students at Hampton Park Secondary School as part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
Ms. Kellond-Knight, well known for her prowess on the field and her dedication to social causes, delivered a speech to students queuing for a meeting.
The speech highlighted the importance of the 16-day campaign, raising awareness of equal rights for women in the world of sports and encouraging students to advocate for change within their communities.
Sally Carruthers, the school’s director of cultural diversity, said the speech was “powerful and uplifting.”
“It left a lasting impact on students and faculty,” she said.
Student speakers Tarik Omerovic and Bahara Ghulami said when the star athlete shared his journey in a male-dominated sport, it resonated with them.
“What she said was like a reminder that determination, hard work and a strong sense of purpose can be the path to success, no matter what challenges you face,” they said.
After the speech, students lined up for photos and autographs, but it was the girls soccer class that received the biggest surprise.
The students were unaware of Kellond-Knights’ arrival and were greeted by his participation in the game, which Ms Carruthères described as “leaving everyone buzzing with excitement”.
The football star also spoke about the power of sport to drive positive change, in areas such as social transformation, breaking down gender barriers and promoting inclusion.
Education was another topic she touched on, sharing that her educational journey helped her with her discipline and perseverance in balancing studies and sports.
“His message was that education is not only about acquiring knowledge, but also about developing resilience and the ability to adapt to daily challenges,” the student speakers said.
Tarik and Bahara were rewarded with signed mementos to honor their efforts as speakers at the event.
Kellond-Knight’s speech and visit left a lasting mark on the college, inspiring students to pursue their passions, fight injustice and contribute to positive change in the community.