While many Year 12 students have their challenges juggling studies, personal life and maybe a part-time job during this important and defining stage of their young life, spare a thought for young ACT Meteor Isabelle Afaras.
The 18-year-old was presented with a professional cricket contract in the nation’s capital only five months ago and has been managing cricket and school commitments ever since.
But the young off-spinner says this is a challenge she’s embracing as she last Thursday, sat her first HSC exam.
“It’s going as well as it could be,” she said.
“It always has been difficult, particularly this year trying to juggle both cricket and academic commitments."
Afaras says that one way of the situation has worked in her favour, is that it is one in which she thrives.
“I always like doing something,” she says. “So I’m able to go home, study and then after a while go to the gym, do a workout and then come home and do some more study. So, I think it all works in my favour in a way.”
Over the next month, the soon-to-be graduate of Loreto Kirribilli Catholic School will test her knowledge across advanced English, maths, economics, religion and legal studies.
And while forging a cricket career is very-much on the agenda, Afaras intends to continue studying in her adult life.
“I’m hoping to do a law degree at university and I think I want to combine commerce with law,” she said.
“It’s always important to have a backup option and I think that’s probably been my attitude since year eight or year nine. I see it very important to pursue both (cricket and studies) as I know cricket may not work out.”
From Sydney, Afaras represented New South Wales through their underage pathways, and also played for Australia at U19 level before gaining her first senior opportunity with the ACT.
Living and attending school in metropolitan Sydney while travelling to Canberra is not without with its challenges.
A three-and-a-half-hour bus ride separates Afaras from school and training, a journey that after five months is now a familiar one.
“Straight after my trial economics HSC exam, I got the bus later that day to went down to Canberra for about five nights,” she said.
Straight after my trial economics HSC exam, I got the bus later that day to went down to Canberra for about five nights.Isabelle Afaras
“The travel is a little bit frustrating in a way because I can’t really study on the bus.
Back in Sydney, Afaras trains regularly at Blacktown with a visiting ACT coach. The communication and support from her academic and cricket networks have helped reduce the stress of her final year of school.
“I think I’ve missed 27 days of school in my HSC year,” she said. “I’ve been handing in a lot of exemption forms, but the school has also been really helpful -- particularly the assistance the teachers have provided in helping me catch-up on work through extra or classes out of school hours."
Cricket ACT has been as equally understanding.
“During stressful exam periods, I’ve let ACT Cricket know when I can’t travel down, and if I’ll be out for a week or two. They’ve been really accommodating towards my needs and that’s been really helpful.”
The ACT Meteors began its WNCL season with two wins from their opening two fixtures.
Afaras – yet to debut this season – could be presented with an opportunity following the WBBL with an extension to the WNCL competition.
The WNCL and Meteorites will resume in January, playing the NSW Breakers on 6 January 2020.