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Finalist — Matalena Daniells



An international soccer player is proving to be just as successful in teaching as she is on the football field, earning a finalist place in prestigious state awards.

Matalena Daniells, who has captained the Samoa Women’s National Football Team, has been made the Centenary State High School (CSHS) Sports Director, and a coordinator of two school subjects, in her first eighteen months of teaching.

The innate leader, who captained her primary and high schools and many of her sporting teams when she was growing up, has coached multiple CSHS sporting teams on to winning championships, co-ordinated interschool competitions and carnivals, rewritten unit plans, lessons and assessments, introduced school student sporting awards and student leadership opportunities, and has been awarded a NESLI Women’s Middle Leadership Scholarship. These are just some of the reasons she has been named a finalist in this year’s Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award.

Mrs Daniells was made a CSHS Health and Physical Education (HPE) subject coordinator in her first year of teaching, with colleagues praising her outstanding curriculum knowledge. The Sport and Recreation Coordinator attributed her knowledge to her “awesome degree”, a Bachelor of Health, Sport and Physical Education at The University of Queensland.

“It was a small group – we had 25 students I graduated with in the course – and we had really knowledgeable teachers and a lot of time to engage with the curriculum. It put me in the space to be able to take on that role when I graduated,” Mrs Daniells said.

She has helped reshape her school’s HPE learning and assessment and was awarded the role of Sports Director this year. Last year, Mrs Daniells also coached two boys’ touch football teams, and a girls’ futsal and AFL team, to championships.

Mrs Daniells said teaching was the perfect fit for her because she loved connecting with people and then helping them succeed, as well as continuously learning herself.

“I’m a social person – I like interacting with people and this job gives me the opportunity to build relationships with students in one of the most critical times of life – in high school. So, for me, that’s probably the biggest reason I love teaching – just being able to build relationships with students and to try and make some sort of impact on their lives in a positive way,” she said.

Mrs Daniells has strived to lead in all areas of her life and taken on board leadership opportunities to challenge and extend her capabilities.

“I feel like I lead in a way that’s not really authoritative and maybe that resonates with people – building that team culture,” she said. “Relationships come first.”

Undertaking the role of Sports Director has meant Mrs Daniells has spent an enormous amount of time outside of school hours coordinating events and activities, with COVID-19 posing extra challenges. Each term she coordinates about 200 students and 20 staff members in consultation with administration, to enrol pupils into individual sports, organise school and community resources, and to communicate with parents about school activities.

Her excellent teaching has also led to an increase in Year 12 Sport and Recreation student results, with the proportion of A’s and B’s rising by 24 per cent.

The winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on 29 October, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day in Australia.

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Unknown member
May 24

It's great to see young leaders like her making a positive impact. If only more teachers had her passion and drive. I wonder if she ever uses omegle to connect with students or other educators around the world to share best practices. Either way, she's a shining example of how sports and teaching can intersect to transform young lives.


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