Matildas’ defensive midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight surprised students at Hampton Park secondary college as part of the 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 before students lined up for a meet-and-greet.
The speech highlighted the importance of the 16 days campaign, raising awareness for equal women’s rights in the sporting world, and encouraging students to be advocates for change within their communities.
Sally Carruthers, the school’s cultural diversity director said that the speech was “powerful and uplifting”.
“It left a lasting impact on students and faculty alike,” she said.
Student speakers Tarik Omerovic and Bahara Ghulami said that when the star athlete shared her 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, regardless of the 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 her joining the game in what Ms Carrutheres described as “leaving everyone buzzing with excitement”.
The soccer star also spoke about the power of sports to drive positive change, in aspects like social transformation, breaking down gender barriers and promoting inclusivity.
Education was another topic that she covered, sharing that her educational journey helped with her discipline and perseverance in balancing academics and sports.
“Her message was that education isn’t all about gaining knowledge, but also about developing resilience and the ability to adapt to everyday challenges,” the student speakers said.
Both Tarik and Bahara were rewarded with signed memorabilia to honour their efforts as speakers during the event.
Kellond-Knight’s speech and visit left a lasting mark on the college, inspiring students to pursue their passions, stand up against injustice and contribute towards positive change in the community.