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Athlete Development More Than Just Sport

For decades, the Hunter (HAS) and Central Coast (CCAS) Academies of Sport have been fostering the region’s best young talent and providing opportunities in sporting pathways across numerous codes.

Although most people would associate our Academies with ‘on-field’ development, we are just as focused on the overall personal development of an athlete as we are on the sport-specific skill development. Sport is a cutthroat business; professional sport is a vocation reserved for a very small percentage of the participation paradigm. The Academies exist to have a positive influence and lasting effect on the lives of young people regardless if they reach the professional ranks or not. We aim to support athletes to reach their full potential both as sportspeople and as leaders in society.

Partnering with the University of Newcastle, HAS and CCAS have established a ‘Pathway to Enrolment Program’, a new initiative that has shown great success in familiarising families and young athletes with campus life and education options into the future. In what has been termed as ‘groundbreaking’, all three parties are now closely aligned with the sole objective of providing world-class opportunities to future students and a pathway to the elite athlete program at the University.

Through the exclusive education partnership with HAS and CCAS, the University of Newcastle is supporting the dreams of high school athletes and preparing them for a career after sport. The partnership offers the opportunity for high school students to engage with the University of Newcastle to explore the pathways, flexible study options, scholarships and support available to student-athletes.

The University provides the Academies with a major point of difference to other partners, including support through sports science testing, integrated learning for postgraduate students and direct access to the Exercise and Sports Science facility at its Central Coast campus. The partnership will enable access to facilities across the Callaghan and Central Coast campuses, which will be used for education seminars with world-class presenters and cooking classes run by nutritionists.

Also, in the background, a very strong purpose-built education program has been built with the support of ClubsNSW, that provides regional athletes with the tools and skills essentially creating a ‘job ready’ younger generation.

With a focus on a healthy lifestyle, good decision making, and stronger mental resilience topics, each of the young athletes time spent with the academy means so much more than just sport.

“We believe we are creating tomorrow’s future leaders,” says Brett O’Farrell, Chief Executive Officer of HAS. “Whether or not they become Australia’s next huge sports star is secondary to the education they receive throughout our programs. It’s the important life learnings that we can provide combined with the necessary tools to make the right choices for their future that matters most.”

“The Academies wouldn’t be able to build such life-changing programs without the support of both key partners who support the local communities at every level,” he said.

The Hunter and Central Coast Academies of Sport would like to thank the University of Newcastle and ClubsNSW for their ongoing support in athlete education.

Words: Bianca Smith - Hunter Academy of Sport

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