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Lily goes for goal with TAFE Queensland

Still in her mid-teens, TAFE Queensland Academy of Sport student Lily Punch is already preparing for a coaching career after pursuing her passion for playing professional football. 

Studying the Certificate II in Sport Coaching (SIS20321)/Certificate III in Sport Coaching (SIS30521), Lily is excelling off the football pitch as she learns coaching fundamentals while representing Queensland and Australia.

“I saw this course as a great opportunity to get more experience and knowledge about football's coaching, strength and conditioning aspects to enhance my performance,” explained Lily.

"I’ve been a Junior Matilda for over two years, and thanks to TAFE Queensland, I’m earning coaching qualifications while in school, learning more about the sport I love while playing internationally."

As part of the TAFE at School program, the Academy of Sport allows high school students like Lily to gain nationally recognised TAFE Queensland qualifications before finishing school.

Developed in partnership with Football Queensland, the program is designed to equip up-and-coming football players with pivotal tools for success in pursuing coaching opportunities both in and outside the football arena.

Fitting in with her existing high school studies, the program replaces one senior subject while contributing to her Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE).

Attending classes one day a week at the South Pine Sports Complex, Lily learns from former professional football player and coach Karl Dodd, who brings decades of professional coaching and playing experience to every lesson.

"We learn coaching theory in the classroom, which we then put into practice by running coaching sessions on the pitch - it’s a great way to learn how to engage and train players."

On the pitch, Lily and her class set up training drills, communicate with players about what they specifically need to focus on, walk them through the activity and give feedback on their performance.

“I’m enjoying it, and I like that I’m getting a coaching perspective on football, collaborating with other students and making new friends from around Brisbane who also love football,” she explained.

"The teachers are inspiring and helpful; when we don’t understand something, they explain it from a player perspective, making it easy to understand. I’m learning new things each week that help with my on-pitch performance.”

“I've also established a new network of friends who are on the same learning journey as me, which has encouraged me further," said Lily.

By focusing on both practical skills and theoretical knowledge, the program equips Lily with a fundamental understanding of coaching, preparing her for a future after her professional playing days.

“Becoming a coach is one of my goals after retiring from professional football, and I want to inspire the next generation of players.”

Her flexible studies allow her to represent the Junior Matildas, which saw her recently represent Australia in the Asian Football Confederation U17 Women’s Asian Cup in Indonesia in 2024.

“Playing three matches in six days against China, Japan and Thailand wearing the Australian jersey is an achievement I’m very proud of.”

“I scored a goal against Thailand, and watching the ball go into the back of the net was such an amazing feeling,” Lily said.

Before leaving for the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup, Lily attended a community coaching session for young girls from the local Cairns First Nations refugee and migrant communities, reinforcing her desire to coach one day.

“Participating in the community coaching session and seeing how sport can bring people from different backgrounds together was great – it’s an aspect of football I love.” 

Lily is also focused on playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2031 and competing for gold at the Brisbane Olympics in 2032.

“I’ll be in my prime by 2030, and I hope to represent Australia at the 2031 FIFA Women’s World Cup and go for gold in my hometown at the Brisbane Olympics in 2032,” she said.

She also hopes to play for the Brisbane Roar Women’s team and one day follow in the footsteps of Australian players Kyra Cooney-Cross, Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord and play in the top leagues of Europe for Arsenal’s Women's Football team.

With the combination of learning in a professional football environment from elite-level teachers and a professional playing career ahead of her, Lily feels she is laying the foundation to coach after her playing days.

"This course is enhancing my love for football. I’m developing my coaching skills, learning different teaching, engagement and learning techniques, and how to communicate effectively," said Lily.

“I’m confident I can one day nurture the next generation of Queensland and Australian football players. I recommend TAFE Queensland – it’s been great for me, and I'm excited for what's to come,” she concluded.