AN UNEXPECTED but welcome journey. 

When Amelia Velardo decided to volunteer at the Adam Saad Pathways Girls Academy last year, she didn’t realise she’d be uncovering her love for coaching. 

Now an assistant coach with the program, Velardo has been loving every minute of coaching the girl's squad, which consists of 25 multicultural girls aged between 13-15 living in Northern Metropolitan Melbourne. 

What the 21-year-old loves the most is seeing the young, raw talent develop right before her very eyes, feeling privileged to work with amazing athletes and coaches. 

“I got involved with the Academy last year with a volunteer position, I just wanted to come to a few training sessions and see what it was all about. I then took on more of a pronounced role this year as an assistant coach,” Velardo explained.

“Just to see them dive right into it, I really wanted to be involved as much as I could.”

Unable to play much junior football, Velardo is relishing the chance that the pathways offer young people, especially giving girls the opportunity to train as elite athletes from a young age.


The 29-gamer can’t overstate the passion and determination she is seeing from the program, which was evident in their clean sweep at the annual Next Generation Academy carnival. 

Not conceding a single goal across all three of their games, they were able to put up high scores of 58, 52 and 95 across their outings, with their accuracy a strong point of their game. 

“They've just got such a hunger to learn and a real drive to soak up everything they can while they’re here,” she said. 

“I think that came out on the field, they definitely took it to the opposition which was amazing to see.

“It was a real testament to the work they’ve put in over the six weeks.” 

Now that the program is over for another term, Velardo hopes that the girls can take the lessons they’ve learnt back to their junior clubs and help shape the development of their teammates moving forward. 

“I think the best part of this program is that it has such a focus not just the on-field, but also the off-field learnings,” she said. 

“They can share with people their age who don’t have the opportunity or access to that knowledge and they can really learn from them.”