Born: Warrnambool on January 7, 1984.
Parents: Heaton and Julie. Sibling: Terry.
Education: Port Fairy Consolidated School before attending Hawkesdale College.
Sporting highlight: getting my Black Belt in freestyle karate in 2008, at the end of a 10 hour day which was mentally and physically exhausting.
Cassandra, how did you get involved in martial arts?
The first time I showed an interest in martial arts was when I was around five years old. My parents said I was too young to get involved.
My brother Terry had started doing martial arts and I followed in his footsteps. I was probably 12 years old when I really became interested in the sport because one of my girlfriends from school was taking part.
I'm still involved with the sport today through Spartan Mixed Martial Arts in Warrnambool. David Gibb is in charge and he's proficient in martial arts skills.
Have you suffered any injuries in your time in martial arts?
Over my 26 years in martial arts, I haven't suffered many injuries, but there's one that I remember and that occurred in 2008 when I broke my right hand.
I broke a bone in my hand while trying to break four roofing tiles as part of a martial arts grading.
I knew I had broken a bone but I had only broken two of the four roofing tiles, so I had to forget the pain and finish breaking the tiles. I must admit, I was in incredible pain.
Martial arts is all about pushing forward and having the ability to overcome weaknesses in the mind.
Did you play any other sports when you were growing up?
I played hockey for four years in the local women's league on Saturday mornings.
I also played netball after school for a few years and I had a try at soccer while I was at school and then again in 2002 when I took part in the university games that were held in Queensland. Even though I enjoyed soccer, I never went down that path.
How did sport influence your life choices?
Sport and exercise kept me sane. I've worked in the corporate world for the past 12 years and on different projects, including infrastructure, healthcare, environment, education, plus banking and finance.
The last major job I worked on was for the state government in project management on a $350 million project.
It was a pretty tough time, as we were caught up in COVID in Melbourne.
Were you locked down in Melbourne because of the pandemic?
Yes. The first major lockdown in Melbourne was terrible. I spent 14 weeks in lockdown in a one bedroom apartment.
I think a lot of people who were caught up with the lockdown in Melbourne will never forget that experience.
I had no human contact in that 14 weeks apart from the phone and Facetime calls, and, on top of that, I was so bored that I spent a couple of hours a day walking/running in the restricted zone around where I was living and happened to get a stress fracture in my leg due to overuse.
My injury went untreated for about six weeks because of the pandemic.
I was lucky that my parents lived in Port Fairy and I was able to get back home for short breaks when restrictions were lifted before going back to Melbourne, but there would be thousands of people in Melbourne that never had the luxury of getting out into the country to take in the fresh air.
I've got used to having work meetings by zoom, which is normal in this day and age.
It was during the lockdown in Melbourne in May 2021 that I thought I wanted to get involved in something in the Port Fairy community.
I got in contact with Leon Morton from the Port Fairy Soccer Club and we discussed about having a women's soccer side.
I put my hand up to work as a coordinator for the women's team. We had our first women inclusive training session in June 2021.
I decided to move back to Port Fairy after I had a change in jobs late last year and, with the job change, it gave me the chance to help out with more things relating to the women's soccer side.
I'm vice-president of the club and the only female on the committee but I'm hoping that will change in the future.
How many women did you have at that first training session?
There were 10, and only two of us had any idea about soccer. We were all enthusiastic but our skills were lacking.
We started having monthly training sessions in between COVID and the interest amongst the women really intensified, so we started gaining the momentum to create a side.
The club has been very lucky to have coaches James Chapman and Tommy Robinson, plus Anne North working behind the scenes, to help develop the players' skills.
We train on Tuesday nights at Port Fairy's Southcombe Park from 6.15pm.
We offer a welcoming environment for women to come and play or just get involved with the club.
It's been tough for Port Fairy Soccer Club because we're in an area that has been focussed on football for years and years, so it was always going to be difficult to attract people to be involved with the club - whether that be as players, sponsors or volunteers but we're seeing more people showing an interest in the sport.
Last Sunday, the club had its first women's and Under 12 side play in competition games at Port Fairy's Southcombe Park. Was the day a success for the club?
Yes. I would say it was a fantastic success. There were a lot of people who turned up to watch the various games. The club now has a base to build on, with the women's and under 12 sides, plus now there are two men's teams.
We have a wonderful kids program in place, which is called the mini-Roos. There are about 120 children of all ages who come and take part in training after school on Tuesday nights.
The young children will be the backbone of the club in the future.
The junior program is all about having a good time and enjoying yourself.
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