When Simon Highfield was offered a chance to work as the AFL Development Officer in Solomon Islands, he grabbed it.
“I am over the moon, the fact that I decided to volunteer is the best thing that I have done. Being able to come here, to be able to achieve something different, experiencing a different culture in a beautiful country, puts life into perspective.”
“I think everyone needs to volunteer as it removes you from your other life—just for a year—and you just get to see life through someone else’s life and it’s just fantastic.”
Simon is now six months into his 10 month assignment and he enjoys the dynamics of his job and the different roles that he plays.
“My role involves capacity building including media and media training for my counterpart, as well as running school programs and doing provincial tours and planning school and senior competitions. We also do a bit of work in health and community participation as well.”
Having worked as a physical education teacher in Newcastle before coming to Solomon Islands, Simon brings with him a wealth of experience and is working hard to ensure sport is an important education aspect in schools throughout the country.
“I’d really like to see AFL have more of a strong hold in Solomon Islands, but also to see sport become an important part of the school system here.”
“The most rewarding thing that I have found so far is working with local Solomon Islanders. I have a very good relationship with my counterpart. I am learning from him, learning from his culture and just being able to develop those sorts of relationships through sports.”
“For me, I am outside most of the time kicking footy with kids and teaching them about healthy messages and about sport.” One of highlights of his assignment so far has been getting to introduce AFL in Malaita province.
“One of the best things we’ve done so far is tour Malaita province for a week, where we introduced AFL, others sports and health messages to schools and communities across the province.”
Simon’s assignment is through the Australian Volunteers for International Development, an Australian Government initiative.