Up there, Jai, like Cazaly

Jai Downing is moving at the speed of light towards his dream of being a strength and conditioning coach in the AFL women’s league. At this rate, there is no stopping him.

Jai Downing is a shining example of what’s possible when you put your mind to something.

He is working towards his end goal of being a strength and conditioning coach in the AFL with fierce determination and perseverance.

“I’ve set my sights on the women’s side of football,” Jai says.

“I don’t think that women’s football has the full support network that they need to strive and succeed.”

Jai started off at Chisholm in the VCAL Rising Stars Senior Secondary Program through Chisholm’s Sports Academy Football Program.

The academy program is designed for talented, aspiring young athletes to reach their athletic potential while completing their senior secondary studies or while pursuing a career in the Sport and Recreation industry at certificate or diploma level.

Next, Jai got his Certificate III in Sport and Recreation, then went on to do the Dual Diploma of Sport and Recreation Management/Diploma of Sport (Development and Coaching).

While studying at Chisholm, Jai volunteered in many sporting areas, helping out in the Sports Academy Athletic Development program and working with Casey Demons.

Despite personal challenges, such as supporting his dad through illness and having to move halfway through the year, Jai thrived while completing his dual diploma.

“I’d say I am a resilient person,” says Jai.

“Sport helps, but also the coaches and people who are looking after you and on your side definitely helps as well.”

For his amazing efforts, Jai was nominated twice for the Chisholm Education Awards – once as Secondary Student of the Year in 2022 and again as Vocational Student of the Year in 2023. 

In nominating him, his teacher said Jai had been an outstanding student whose effort and attitude set him apart from fellow students.

“I feel very honoured and good about it,” says Jai.

Jai is currently completing his Bachelor of Exercise and Science Sport at Deakin University and is due to graduate in 2025.

To say Jai has a jam-packed agenda is an understatement.

He works as a Game Development Officer for South Metro Junior Football League, does athlete testing with Global Wellness Tracking Australia, and has a job at Casey RACE, an aquatic centre in Cranbourne East, in membership sales.

When he’s not working or studying, Jai volunteers for the South East Juniors’ Academy, an interleague football team, as a strength and conditioning coach.

“I’m feeling pretty good about the direction I’m heading in,” says Jai.

“I have contacts within the industry and I’ve already set myself up for placement with Casey Demons when I’m eligible to do that at the end of this year.”

After suffering a few injuries and with such a busy schedule, Jai was taking a break from playing football at the time of writing this article, but says he might take it up again in future.

He couldn’t be more excited what’s on the horizon.

“All the pieces are slowly falling into place,” he says.

“I’m very excited for the next few years and I plan on just putting my head down and studying and working. I just want to set myself up and strive for greatness.”