Emily Hollingsworth is chasing big dreams. Since joining the QBE Sydney Swans Academy two years ago her pursuit of the AFLW is well underway. But if you ask her mother Samantha, the impact of the program far outweighs the promise of a professional career.  

From a young age Emily showed incredible promise as an athlete. It was a referral from another parent that opened the doors to what the Academy could provide via the ARA First Nations Foundations program.  

Speaking to Sydney Swans Media Samantha shared her praise for the initiative, which has already introduced so many First Nations kids to the elite pathway.    

“I really love the First Nations Academy that was started with Jarred Hodges,” Samantha said of her first interaction with the club.  

“I do like that when she went on camp, they involved Aboriginal culture because that's important to us…that's part of us.” 

At the outset of the program, the QBE Sydney Swans Academy had seven First Nations participants. Off the back of the ARA First Nations Foundations program, that number has increased to 62.  

Hailing from the Illawarra region, Emily now balances school, extra-curricular activities, and training with the Academy. Currently that involves training twice a week, including travelling to Sydney weekly, and match days. Emily seems unfazed by the massive commitment. 

“My favourite part of training with the Academy is meeting new friends from other clubs and other areas,” Emily said.  

“There’s always someone there encouraging you – whether it be a coach or a teammate. There are so many opportunities to take, and the coaches are just so supportive.” 

Emily admits that she wanted to improve her skills and hit certain fitness goals, but off the field she’s become a keen leader, according to Mum. The young athlete was named a captain in 2023 Super 24 Series in Coffs Harbour and has been involved in the Academy’s leadership program twice.  

“I’ve seen her grow hugely from that,” Samantha added.  

“I find that with the program she’s been doing, it’s encouraged her to help others and be more willing to help someone - even if they don’t ask.” 

In addition to the generous support of principal partner QBE, the Sydney Swans Foundation plays a vital role in investing in the Academy’s growth. It’s through donations and bequests that the Foundation can support the Academy and the development of young athletes in New South Wales. 

“Your money would be going to a great initiative. It supports Emily and continues to benefit a lot of kids.”

- Samantha

Should you like to show your support for the Academy via the Sydney Swans Foundation, we encourage you to donate today. 

We are building futures one goal at a time.