An impressive 12 Raiders players have recently graduated from a Certificate IV in Youth Work to better equip themselves for a career in the industry once their rugby league careers are over.
NRL stars Glen Buttriss, Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee, Anthony Milford, Josh Papalii, Reece Robinson, Sami Sauiluma, Bill Tupou and Paul Vaughan, in conjunction with NYC players Tevita Aroha-Tuinauvai, Carne Doyle Manga and Thoren Fidow Kele all graduated from the course with flying colours according to Raiders Welfare Officer David Thom, who also completed the course alongside NYC Assistant Coach Dean Souter.
"The NRL Welfare team lead by Paul Heptonstall is very focused on preparing all the players in the NYC and the NRL for life after footy,” Thom said. “The edict of the NYC is “no work or study, no play” and it is compulsory for all players to work or study at least 24 hours per week.
“Within the current structure every player is assisted in finding pathways to employment either through apprenticeships in the ‘trade-up with the NRL’ program, through university or in house training courses.
“The players who partook in the course really enjoyed it and were enthusiastic in their participation. It was wonderful to have 12 boys enrol in the course and have 12 boys complete the course.”
As part of the course, the players had to undertake several practical components at different facilities such as the Ted Noffs Foundation, PCYC, Anglicare Drop-In Centre and Gugan Gulwin Youth Aboriginal Corporation.
It was at such practical experiences that the players began to fully comprehend the positive impact that they could have on the youth through utilising their profiles as Raiders players.
“The boys really loved the visits and connected with the young people at each place,” Thom said.
“The players who enrolled were players who are connected to their communities and cultural backgrounds and saw the opportunity to study something that would give them the skills to go and help their own people and also young people less fortunate than themselves.
“A lot of the boys had grown up in similar environments and related well with the different situations that we experienced. Robin Duff, who ran the course, really emphasised the importance of the boys’ profiles in the community and how that profile put them in a place where the youth looked up to them and had a connection which a lot of other youth workers don’t have.
“The feedback they received was fantastic. They engaged with the young people and were comfortable with all the placements they experienced. It was really exciting and rewarding to see how well they connected with the youth and vice versa.”
Whilst many of the dozen players are at the foundations of their budding NRL careers, Thom was pleased to see that they will be well equipped to handle the switch to the industry if that is what they chose to do once their playing days are over.
“Many of these players have come straight from school into the footy system and have not had any ‘real’ jobs before so it was fantastic for them to get a qualification that can gain them employment in this area.
“They have all expressed interest in doing some voluntary work while playing footy with a view to moving into the places when they transition into the workforce upon retirement from rugby league.”
*The course was presented by Robin Duff. Robin has a vast background in counselling and youth work and has been the Athlete Welfare and Career Education Manager at the AIS and University of Canberra for over 20 years.