Young Dragons Plan For Life After League

The St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition team proudly took part in the Playwise Work Place Training Program held at TAFE Illawarra recently.

The Young Dragons undertook a five day intensive program at the tertiary institution which provided training and educational expertise to all rookie members of the squad.

TAFE Illawarra was one of three TAFE NSW Institutes to deliver the pilot program to young footballers with the objective that, if successful, the program would be implemented across TAFE NSW and NRL Clubs.

“Within the NRL contract is the stipulation that players have to be enrolled in a course of study or have a job, they cannot just be footballers,” said Dragons National Youth Competition team Head Coach Ben Hornby.

“The aim is to support the holistic development of young Rugby League players in the National Youth Cup Competition in navigating pathways from school.”

With a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy, the program included sessions such as understanding contracts and match statistics to developing a study and career pathway.

Among the sessions offered was an introduction to Carpentry and Building with former NRL player turned TAFE Illawarra teacher, Brett McCroary.

McCroary, who played semi-professionally for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and three English Super League teams and is now a full time TAFE Illawarra Teacher, Carpentry and Building,.

“A program like this is for their future, the rookies need to have something after they finish League,” said McCroary.

“I offered an introduction to Carpentry and Building, with emphasis on the pathways available to get into the trade, so that they have some information to consider after their football careers.”

McCroary said that the fact he was semi-professional, obtained an apprenticeship at 18-years-old, and attended TAFE, has stood him in good stead.

“From my time in football, I know of many players who made lots of money, but when they finished football lost direction and blew it all. It may be a cliché, but it happens,” said McCroary.

The program aimed to deliver critical professional and life skills to elite youth athletes which included;

  • Communication Skills – written and verbal.

  • Employability – currently and post-football.

  • Confidence and self-esteem – pre-requisite for media training.

  • Identify barriers to learning; and

  • Complete the career development and support currently provided by the education and welfare teams at each of the three NRL Clubs.

The program content was designed to address the needs of elite youth athletes and includes WHS compliance, job seeking skills, understanding workplace documents, work skills, match stats and calculations and money management.