Academies combine forces to identify indigenous sporting talent

The Central Coast Academy of Sport (CCAS) has combined with five other regional academies across NSW and with Underwriting Agencies Australia (UAA) for the development and refinement of an Indigenous Talent Identification Program for athletes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

The program is designed to encourage an active lifestyle and provide assistance in advancing opportunities in sport.

As well as with CCAS, the program will be implemented with the academies of the North Coast, Northern Inland, Western Region, Hunter and Southern (Riverina region), all of whom seek to introduce it this year.

The Regional Academy of Sport expect the program to attract a total of 650+ indigenous athletes to their talent identification days and to then extend fully funded scholarships to 132 successful applicants across the whole network, 22 of which to Central Coast locals.

It is a program that UAA Group Chief Executive Officer, Michael Murphy, is extremely passionate about.

“Our ultimate goal is to identify people from the program who are wanting further education,” he said.

“Let’s say they want to study Construction Management at the University of Newcastle, UAA will provide the individual an internship which will avoid them racking up a huge HECS debt or avoid working at a fast-food outlet at the weekends.

“This will enable them to continue with their sporting endeavours.

“The internship will enable them to see the ‘real world’, when they visit a construction site and can see firsthand what things look like when they’ve gone wrong.

“Our growth strategy around the regional academies is important because they are key region’s for UAA, we do a lot of business in the very towns the Academies of Sport operate.

Murphy says UAA’s approach to internships is to provide individuals with a career path which requires discipline.

“Extreme discipline is required to be an elite athlete and it’s the same for an education.

“Unfortunately, within the indigenous community there is a high fall off rate between year 10 and year 12 and going to university.

“Using the Central Coast event as an example, on the day, there are a number of stations which focus on the different sports offered in the program and at each of these stations there is an expert on the sport.

“The process starts at the schools with 100+ youngsters selected and from this 100+, twenty-two are offered scholarships.

“We all see the missed opportunities with today’s youth and there are lots of people with good hearts and best intentions but unless you get in and have a go, best intentions don’t amount to much and nothing will change.

“‘Creating Pathways’ for our youth is today’s term and it’s true, they need to be able to see what steps they need to take.

In the eyes of Ian Robilliard, the Chair of the Regional Academies of Sport (RAS) and Managing Director of the CCAS, the UAA supported program is a part of a broader strategy to create pathways for young adults in regional areas.

“The RAS network is very unique in Australian sport, it is currently a collective of nine independently operated organisations and two government run organisations who’s reach throughout regional NSW is considerable, indeed this reach is potentially unmatched,” he said.

“Many organisations think RAS are totally driven around the delivery of sporting programs and while that’s important, we also do much more than that.

“Indeed, the RAS ‘More Than Sport Strategy’ provides a very clear focus on what is possible outside of our sport programs that help deliver work ready young adults across regional NSW.”

Media Release, May 18
Regional Academies of Sport media.