ANU Engineering and Science student Rebecca Beath has made it into the NRL Touch Premiership, playing for the Parramatta Eels Women’s team. I asked Bec a few questions about her experience as a student athlete after she won her first game in the competition earlier this month.
How long have you been playing touch and what drew you to the sport? Can you tell me a bit about your involvement with ANU Touch?
‘I’ve been playing touch since I was 10 years old. I always enjoyed running around with the footy at recess and lunch throughout primary school, and from there I made my first ACT rep team and haven’t looked back since! I think I got drawn to touch because I always wanted to be like my big brothers playing footy, but was never a fan of the contact involved in tackling, so touch was a great middle ground! I got involved with ANU Touch in my first year of uni (2013) when I signed up for Uni Games. From then I’ve made my best mates at uni through the Touch Club, and was President from 2014-15 as well.’
Has ANU played a part in shaping you as an athlete?
‘ANU has played a part in my athletic career by offering awesome facilities to train in, and the elite athlete program run by Billy Mason. I’m not involved with the program any more due to time constraints but it is an awesome way to get the guidance needed in the gym to achieve great results! Support from lecturers and tutors has always been great too, they’ve always been understanding if I miss a class or need an extension due to my sporting commitments.’
How did you become involved with the NRL Touch Premiership?
‘I play Touch football up in Sydney for the Manly Sea Eagles, and also for the Alliance at the Elite 8 competition. When the Premiership was announced, players from NSW were selected into squads for the three NSW teams, and I was lucky enough to get picked in the Parramatta Eels side!’
What has it been like balancing commitments to study and work with playing professional-level sport?
‘It’s been really difficult, but with strict time management it’s possible! Travelling to Sydney twice a week takes its toll, but by preparing early and knowing what I have coming up, I can make sure I get all the work done that I need to.’
What advice would you give to ANU students who are aspiring to achieve similar heights in their athletic careers?
‘I would say don’t be afraid to approach lecturers and tutors if you need a little extra help! It’s always hard to manage both study and sporting careers, but when plenty of notice is given, lecturers can be quite accommodating and do all they can to help you out. Depending on your sport, elite level opportunities may not come around too often, so be sure to take them when they come!’
Are you feeling optimistic about prospects of winning the Premiership?
‘I think we have a really good shot at winning the Premiership. We’ve got a bit to work on from our first game, but if we play the best touch we can I know we can get a win on the 30th and then in the final up in QLD. It’ll be tough against some of the best players in the country, but hard work can get us there.’