New Zealand Rugby League is spearheading a new career pathways and wellbeing programme alongside Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Led by NZRL General Manager of Football and Wellbeing Nigel Vagana, the programme launched this week.
Vagana says finding shared pathways within New Zealand is a key part of the NZRL’s new approach to supporting league players here.
“Between the NZRL, the Vodafone Warriors and Fire and Emergency NZ we identified an opportunity that really showcased the benefits of all of our organisations.”
“We want to provide a pathway for our players, we obviously share some common attributes in regards to fitness but also in the community.
“This is the first of it’s kind in New Zealand and we are very excited to ensure it continues.”
Vodafone Warriors Welfare and Education manager Jerry Seuseu highlighted the importance of ensuring players from all grades were able to find careers outside football.
“This is a vital part of maintaining balance for players and to be able to provide yet another pathway is incredible,” he says.
“It’s great to see how quickly the programme has been able to be set up and we’re already getting players, both men and women, through.”
Vagana credited former Warrior Talite Liavaa for playing a key part in getting the programme set up.
Liavaa, Warrior #71, played 11 games between 1999 and 2000 and is now an accomplished firefighter and station officer.
Georgia Hale, Lorina Papali’i, Luisa Avaiki and Donald Tony attended the first session of the programme alongside Vagana and Seuseu.
Liavaa says it’s great to see the link between football and Fire and Emergency created. Former New Zealand Rugby Black Fern Rochelle Martin MNZM has echoed those sentiments.
“This is something that hopefully has great appeal for more codes and sports, there are obvious links between the sporting and emergency services communities and it would be great to see this expand.”
The programme itself is an introduction to fire-fighting and the services that Fire and Emergency provides. Ultimately players are able to work with a mentor to go through the recruitment process and, if successful, join the ranks of Fire and Emergency NZ.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says the vision of the programme is to help find careers for players but also to encourage younger players to see there is a life outside football.
“We want to ensure that our players, through all grades, can see that there are opportunities for them to play football and have a career at the same time,” Peters says.
“Partnering with Fire and Emergency NZ is one initiative we are very proud to have kicked off.
“This is just the beginning, we are constantly working to bring these opportunities to fruition for the betterment of the game and our players across the country.”