VU graduate leading the way in disability sport & recreation

Throughout high school, Ayden Shaw lived and breathed sport. After a ruptured ACL put him on the bench in Year 12, he began to explore sports careers off the field.

At VU's Open Day, Ayden discovered the perfect match for his interests in the Bachelor of Sport Science (Human Movement)/Bachelor of Psychological Studies).

He is now excelling as Sport and Recreation Manager at Disability Sport and Recreation, where he has been instrumental in the development of the first ever Robert Rose Foundation Wheelchair Football League.

A choice made easy

"During year 12, I went to VU’s Open Day and was just blown away by the world-class sport facilities available and the University’s leadership in sport education. I knew there was no other place I wanted to study.

When I saw there was a course available which would allow me to continue with both my favourite VCE subjects (P.E. and Psychology) I put it as my top preference right away.

The greatest part of the course was its flexibility and diversity – I was able to pick subjects that I was passionate about and studied many topics, ranging from the history of sport to sociology, which have each assisted me in getting to where I am today.”

From graduate to manager: how industry connections helped Ayden get ahead

Placements lead to opportunities

“I was extremely lucky that VU placed a large emphasis on practical industry experience. My first placement was with the inaugural All Abilities Cricket Championships at Cricket Australia. During this placement I was Match Operations Coordinator, which cemented my passion and desire to work in sport and community development.

My next placement was at Cricket Victoria where I helped deliver the first ever Women’s Cricket Sport Hub in Braybrook in partnership with Maribyrnong Council. This developed my project management and stakeholder management skills. A cultural study trip to Japan then gave me the opportunity to see sport in a completely different context.

While studying and completing placements, I also volunteered with Western Bulldogs on their community programs. I embraced the opportunity and must have impressed the club so much that they offered me a position as a Lead Volunteer Adapter through which I visited schools around Melbourne’s west to deliver sport programs. This progressed to a position overseeing their community leadership program as a Workshop Coordinator and a caretaker role with the Whitten Project."

Volunteering gives its own rewards

"The importance of industry experience and networking is never lost on me.

After graduating, I became a member of Vicsport and attended one of their functions where I met Richard Amon, CEO of Disability Sport and Recreation and a fellow VU graduate. I began volunteering with the organisation, and shortly after Richard Amon offered me a job.

I am extremely lucky to have come through VU. It has had a big impact on my life and my career. I now give back to the university as a mentor on its Talent Connect program, helping to inspire the next generation of graduates through my networks and experience.”

Transforming lives through opportunity

“I have always been inspired and amazed by what people can achieve when they develop the confidence within themselves to leave their comfort zone, and saw the opportunity to really make a difference in the disability sport sector.

It’s incredibly rewarding to see lives transformed through sport and recreation.

Through my current role, I create opportunities for those with disabilities to become more active and involved in their community. The highlight of my career so far has been managing the sport of Wheelchair AFL and working in partnership with AFL Victoria and AFL clubs to develop and implement the first ever Robert Rose Foundation Victorian Wheelchair Football League.

I also oversee Wheelchair Rugby in Victoria, and develop participation pathways for future players working in partnership with Rugby Victoria. Some of the other activities I manage are our kids’ programs, including hospital sport initiatives for patients at Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Children’s Hospital.

Every day I get to meet new inspiring people who may have disabilities, or are working in the sector. The opportunity to collaborate on innovative programs and initiatives means that work rarely feels like ‘work’.”

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