Kell Lean joins AIS Accelerate Program

Kell Lean joins AIS Accelerate Program

Former Volleyroos captain Kell Lean is one of fourteen athletes who have been accepted into the 2023 AIS Accelerate Program.

The intensive three-month initiative aims to help women pursue key roles in sports administration such as board members, event managers and high performance coaches.

Now in its third year, the program has had an immediate impact with 45 per cent of the 2022 cohort securing new roles on completion of the program.

Funded through the Australian Government’s Office for Women, Federal Minister for Sport

Anika Wells congratulated the successful recipients.

“This is a fantastic cohort of women who have together made 59 international appearances across Olympic, Paralympic, World Championships, World Cups, Commonwealth Games and Grand Slam events.

“The insights and ideas these athletes can offer to the Australian workforce is unparalleled and will help us strengthen the diversity of our leaders in sport.”

Kell Lean retired at the end of 2022 after fifteen years of national and international competition. This included three years as captain of the Australian Women’s Volleyroos and four years as a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee.

She is a full-time business consultant for Wolfram Research and says the opportunity to be part of the AIS Accelerate Program will fill some of the void left by leaving the team environment which inspired her for so long.

“I was lucky enough to start working full-time before I finished with volleyball, but my company is based in the US so I don’t have colleagues around me day-to-day,” said Lean. “So I think doing something like this is going to help me during this time where I don’t have my teammates around anymore.

“I feel like it’s an interesting group where there’s quite a few who left sport and went straight into motherhood, there’s others that have been really unsure about taking the step into retirement because they don’t know what the next step is.”

Ultimately, Lean knows she wants to get back into sport in a non-playing capacity and the Accelerate Program will help her understand the pace at which she does that and the direction she may ultimately head in.

“The immediate future right now is to give myself time to switch mentally and emotionally from player to – right now – a ‘fan’,” she said. “I want to sit back in the next 12 months or so and really support my team and my friends and love what they do. I think that will give me another element of appreciation for our sport and what I did too; enjoy reflecting and being proud of that.

“But sport is where I want to end up, it’s what I want to do.

“Coaching is definitely something I’ve had to say ‘no’ to options in the last six months because I think that’s the healthiest choice mentally.

“I hope I always have something to do with volleyball but I think there’s lots of other big, broad sporting opportunities that I was given as an athlete and I would love to be able to give back as well.”

Australian Sports Commission (ASC) CEO Kieren Perkins said he was thrilled to welcome such a strong group of women following a tough selection process.

“The high level of demand and the quality of applicants speaks to the high regard these programs are held.

“Increasing female involvement at all levels of sport is a key priority for the ASC and through a range of programs, we are seeing an increase in women working in a variety of new roles right across the sector.

“I look forward to seeing this cohort reach their full potential and continue to make a big impact across Australian sport.”

The program will see participants come together for in-person workshops at the AIS while undertaking tailored online training focused on developing their leadership capabilities and strengthening their personal brand.

The programs are supported by funding from the Australian Government’s Office for Women, in conjunction with the AIS and the Australian Sports Commission. The $3.4 million in funding over four years also supports the long running Women Leaders in Sport Program.

2023 AIS Accelerate Program participants: Samantha Hamilton (Baseball), Nicole Fagan (Athletics), Kyla Bremner (Combat), Sarah Pound (Rowing), Kell Lean (Volleyball), Natalie von Bertouch (Netball), Annabel Parolo (Tennis), Kaity Fassina (Weightlifting), Emma Bowker (Triathlon), Amelia Catt (Sailing), Victoria Pendergast (Para Snow), Melissa Breen (Athletics), Kareena Clark (Swimming) Lara Falk (Alpine skiing). 

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