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Lead by example, play sport.

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Michelle Williams says that sport has given her family a sense of belonging, and is a driver to meet other like-minded people.

13 Feb 2017


Never ask your children to pursue a sport if you are not prepared to get stuck in and have a go yourself.

It’s a simple philosophy that mother-of-two, Michelle Williams, firmly believes in, even if it means diving off the blocks – after a 30 year break from the pool – in an open swimming meet with primary-school aged competitors!

“It was my boys’ first year of swimming club and I decided to stop sitting in the grandstand each Monday night and join them,” Michelle said.

“I wanted to prove to my sons that all their hard work in training for the inter-town swimming meet would be worth it, so I took to the blocks with a bevy of eight-year-old girls.

“As I dived in and began to swim, nothing spurred me on more than having my two little boys clapping and cheering ‘go Mum!’ They were ecstatic – and not once embarrassed that their 44-year-old Mum was swimming with the other girls in the open event.

“Being a positive role model sometimes means setting aside motherly modesty and getting your feet wet!”

The youngest of four siblings, Michelle said her parents never took the time to watch, encourage or support her sporting efforts at school or as an adult. In contrast, she vowed never to miss her family’s sporting moments.

“I feel quite envious now of the time we put into supporting our family’s sporting commitments, it’s something I wished for as a child,” Michelle said. 

Playing sport in Muswellbrook, a town in the Upper Hunter Region of New South Wales, has given the Williams family a sense of belonging. Their nearest relatives live five hours drive away, so sport has been a driver to meet other like-minded people and form close friendships.

“Playing sport has meant that we are never left out and gives us a sense of family,” Michelle said.

“I didn’t have any access to sport outside of school as a child so I took up softball as an adult to make friends and feel included and involved.

“My youngest son is asthmatic and struggles with an incredibly rare genetic bone disorder so sport has been his way of coping with things beyond his control.

“My husband has been involved in sport since childhood and is the senior vice president of our local rugby league club. Both my sons have played sport as soon as they were old enough to walk, whether it was swimming, rugby league, soccer, touch football or cricket.”

And Michelle’s top tip for other families wanting to get involved in sport?

“Do it. Volunteer, get involved, and enjoy it with your family. No matter what the sport, if your kids see that you’re involved then they know your dedication is authentic.”

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Did you know?

Gold Coast 2018 is the 5th Commonwealth Games to be hosted by Australia.

Quick numbers

11.6 million Australian adults participate in sport or physical activity three or more times per week.
3.2 million Australian children participate in organised sport or physical activity outside of school.
$10 billion is spent annually by Australians on fees for participation in sport or physical activity.
17 million Australian adults participate in a sport or physical activity every year.