Doing the groundwork for women to keep scoring goals in sport

by frank-stuart

If you play centre and wing attack in netball as Mikah van Gogh does, you’re swift, creative and you know how to do the groundwork for others to shoot goals. So it’s no surprise that Mikah is the Head of Department for Global Health Science and Health Science at ACPE, where’s she helping set the scene for women and men to succeed in sport and study.

“Like many people, I’ve had moments in my studies and career when I wasn’t sure what to do,” Mikah said. “But each time I’ve been given a good opportunity, I go for it, even if I felt like I wasn’t ready. It has meant I’ve learnt a lot on the go and always emphasised the importance of teamwork.”

Mikah has played netball for Manly for 20 years and currently plays for the Manly Warringah Sapphires in the Netball NSW Premier League. Last year, they won the grand final. “As one of the older players, I have a leadership and mentoring role, which I really enjoy.”

“I never dreamed that in my lifetime, I’d see a female athlete just doing sport as a profession. Now, that’s a reasonable aspiration,” Mikah says. “It is awesome to be able to encourage young women to pursue excellence in their sport and their studies. There are so many more opportunities in both.”

One opportunity that Mikah grasped with both hands is sports research. “Netball is not an international sport, so there is limited research available for clubs and players to use to improve the game,” Mikah said.

As part of her Honours in Human Movement, Mikah’s research focused on the positional demands in netball. “If we understand how players move in the different positions, we can create specific training plans for them.” It is research she would like to continue.

During Honours, Mikah also started tutoring part-time in anatomy and skill acquisition at ACPE. “A few years in, I applied for a full-time lecturing role and more recently for a role as Head of Department,” she said.

“ACPE has a proud history championing the development of women in sport. It started as a training institute for young women and opened its doors to male students in the early 1970s. For me, it is the perfect mix of teaching, coaching and academia.”

“Here, I manage a fantastic team of people with different skills and passions,” Mikah said. “Nowadays my role is more about overseeing how our degrees set all of our students up for the careers of the future.”

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