Rising Rugby 7s star Jesse Southwell is the April winner of the Commonwealth Games Australia emerging athlete of the month award after a breakthrough campaign in Canada.
Jesse Southwell, the rising star of Aussie 7s helped power the Women’s Rugby 7s side to victory at the recent Canadian leg of the World Sevens Series in Canada, with the 17-year-olds outstanding play helping to propel the side into the final against New Zealand.
In a hard-fought final, the Aussies prevailed with a superb 21-17 win, defeating New Zealand for the first time in five years, but it was the breakthrough campaign from Southwell through the preliminary matches that help secure Australia the series victory.
Southwell who made her debut for the Canadian leg of the world series, was still in awe of donning her Australian jersey and what the side achieved.
“It’s such an honour to make my debut in Canada, I was looking at my jersey and having my last name in the back, and then putting that jersey on… it was such an honour,” Southwell said.
“It was something I’ve dreamed of ever since I can remember representing my country.
“And to do it with the best bunch of girls with that have my back was such a cool experience and I’m still kind of loss for words, it hasn’t really sunk in yet that we won.”
It was stirring campaign from the green and gold, with the side buoyed by confidence as they head into a staging camp in Toulouse, France, to continue the build up towards the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
After her stunning Canadian experience, Southwell has now put herself into the mix for the final squad to compete in Birmingham, a stunning rise for the youngster who moved to rugby 7s only a few years ago.
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“I had been playing rugby league my entire life, ever since I was five and ever since I can remember, but when I tried rugby sevens at my high school… I absolutely loved it, it was such a cool thing for me to play a sport like sevens,” Southwell said.
“My sister was in the sevens program, and I just thought, oh my goodness, this is so cool.
“I’m playing this sport that my sister is playing… playing with these amazing girls that get to go to the Olympics and then the Commonwealth Games, and it was just such a cool thing to even start playing.”
The teenager believes being part of the national squad is a motivating environment that is driving everyone to get better and to best the best rugby players that can be, and the notion of travelling the world to play rugby isn’t lost on the 17-year-old.
“The competitive spirit that all these girls have is such a big motivator, such a big driver for us,” Southwell said.
“Getting to test ourselves against all the competition around the world is such a cool experience and I can’t recommend it highly enough.” (laughingly)
Now with just 75 days to go until the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, and having made her Australian team debut ticked off of her dream list, Southwell has a new dream she is working towards.
“Being on the team would be another dream come true,” Southwell said.
“I can’t imagine it actually, it would be such an amazing experience just to be selected in a team like that… it’s hard to put into words how amazing it would be to go to the Commonwealth Games.”
“I will keep working hard towards that dream.”
Over the course of 2022, a young athlete will be honoured each month, receiving a $500 gift voucher to go towards their training expenses and go into the running to earn the title of Emerging Athlete of the Year, winning a $5000 scholarship grant from Commonwealth Games Australia.
Commonwealth Games Australia has a focus on supporting emerging talent and a history that spans 90 years that includes some of sport’s greatest moments.
The CGA Emerging Athlete of the Year Award celebrates the next generation of Australian sport stars who are on track to make their multi-sport debut at the upcoming Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and those may make an impact for Australia at major sport events later in the year and beyond.
Three finalists (selected by the Awards Sub-committee) from the monthly winners be invited to the Presidents Dinner in 2023 and receive a $1000 CGA scholarship towards their sporting career.
The annual winner, selected by the Awards Sub Committee will receive a $5000 CGA scholarship toward their sporting career.