The Central Coast Academy of Sport (CCAS), in partnership with Underwriting Agencies Australia (UAA) has developed and refined an Indigenous Talent Identification Program for athletes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent designed to encourage an active lifestyle and provide assistance in advancing opportunities in sport.
In an exciting announcement, the same program will be implemented across another five regional Academy of Sport catchment regions in NSW. The North Coast, Northern Inland, Western Region, Hunter and Southern Sports Academy will all introduce an Indigenous Talent ID program in 2021. The Illawarra Academy of Sport operates an MCR Indigenous Sports program to lift the total number of Academies working in the More than Sport Strategy to seven.
In total, across the Regional Academy network, a total of 650+ indigenous athletes will gain exposure to the talent identification day’s and of those attending, 132 indigenous athletes will receive fully funded scholarships provided and supported by UAA.
It is a program that Michael Murphy, UAA Group Chief Executive Officer is extremely passionate about. “Our ultimate goal is to identify people from the program who are wanting further education. 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. UAA can help support them through their educational endeavours whilst they are studying construction. 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,” he said.
UAA has been supporting the CCAS program for five years and one of the major reasons for getting involved is because UAA writes a significant amount of its business in Regional Australia.
“As part of our charter, we have always had the best interests of youth, particularly regional youth and we saw this as a way of giving back to Regional Australia and to our First Nations People. 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”. said Murphy.
“Our approach with 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.
Murphy goes on to describe how the Talent Identification Day works and how talented youngsters are spotted. “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. Quite frequently one kid will be identified by four sports because they are outstanding. The twenty two scholarships are then provided to these chosen athletes. The process starts at the schools with 100+ youngsters selected and from this 100+, twenty-two are offered scholarships,” said Murphy.
“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. We are not just talking about indigenous youth here we are talking about all youth.
Ian Robilliard, Chair of the Regional Academies of Sport (RAS) and Managing Director of the CCAS said of the support provided by UAA; “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. 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. The fact UAA are embarking on this strategy with the North Coast Academy of Sport, Northern Inland Academy of Sport, Western Region Academy of Sport, Hunter Academy of Sport and the Southern Sports Academy provides access to many major cities and towns spread across regional NSW.