It has been some career for Julie Hunter.
In all formats, she has represented Australia 56 times, culminating with 3 World Cup wins, and spent 13 years battling it out on the Australian domestic circuit.
Now at age 33, the former Australian, Victorian and Tasmanian fast-bowler is ready to tackle the next challenge: the transition from being an ‘un-professional professional’ cricketer to working with the AFL in the Northern Territory.
Having prepared for this stage in her life for some time, Hunter feels she is well equipped for the rigours of the work-force, making her decision to retire a more comfortable one.
“Once I’d made the decision that this was probably going to be my last season of cricket, I decided I need to start putting other priorities ahead of cricket,” Hunter said.
“The position is with AFL NT and is a Regional Development Manager role based in Katherine, so it is a pretty big step up from what I’ve been doing.
“But I think with the background I’ve had in cricket, in sports development and through the study I’ve done, I think I’ve got enough there to really enjoy that role.
Hunter has spent large portions of her career studying with the assistance of the ACA Education Grants, and undertook an ACA Internship with Cricket Tasmania in Game Development.
Over the lifespan of her career, Hunter has seen a greater emphasis placed on preparing athletes for their transition out of the game, something that she feels is extremely important.
“It’s probably harder to see when you’re seeing it on a small-scale, year to year, but if you look from when I started playing to what it is now, it is actually huge,” she said.
“So there has been a lot more resources going into it, but we’ve [especially] seen a lot more support for the players at the back end [of their careers].
“Making sure players are able to continue to study, gaining an understanding of their work situation, but still getting the opportunities to train hard and perform at the highest level.
“I think if I didn’t have anything to go into I probably would have been a lot more apprehensive about the end of my career.”
The multi-faceted, case managed, approach of the ACA Professional Development Program is something Hunter is thankful for, having used several services over her career.
“The ACA have been really supportive for me since I started using speaking with Ben Smith, quite some time ago, when I was still just playing for Victoria,” Hunter said.
“Really important for me I guess were things like the internships and the study grants.”
“They all helped to encourage me to continue to develop myself outside of cricket while I was still playing, rather than having that situation where I finish cricket and [being unsure] of what do I do now.
Hunter’s advice for young players?
“[As players] we know cricket’s not forever, so enjoy it while it’s there and put everything into it while it’s there, but understand the eventually that it is going to end and you do need something else.
“So having done that study myself, it gave me a really clear direction which is something that will hopefully continue while I work up in the NT.
Motivated by the next stage of her life, Hunter looks forward to following her passion of ‘creating physical activity programs for people.’
“I want that to be working with young people and providing them with physical activities for all Australians no matter what their background is or what their limitation is,” Hunter said.
“So having done a lot of work with cricket and trying to get people involved with the game regardless of their background, and having the same opportunities to do that with the AFL, is going to be able to set me up for my career.
Outside of work, Hunter is looking forward to enjoying the things she has missed out on over her career.
“We’ll see how I go when next time comes around to how much I miss cricket but I think really I’m just going to enjoy having a summer where I get to spend it with my friends and family,” she said.
“Which obviously, I haven’t been able to do for quite some time as it is the summers where you get to do all the camping and go to the beach and all those things.”
“I might look forward to a couple of those things I think,” Hunter laughs.
“But just moving into that next chapter of life with a little bit more freedom to do what I want to do and where I do it."