Maroons stars Jai Arrow and Tallisha Harden know the engine that keeps rugby league firing is found behind the scenes which is why they are backing the new Maroons Academy.
The academy, the product of a partnership between TAFE Queensland and the QRL, will provide a variety of specialised training courses that will prepare students for careers in areas such as administration, sports science, refereeing and coaching.
"I don’t think people realise what goes on behind the scenes of rugby league where there are people who work their butts off, and when you look from the outside in you don’t realise what they do for the team or the club," Maroons and Titans prop Arrow said.
"Now kids can follow their dreams and have the opportunity to do what they love. They can come to Queensland TAFE and do what they want, whether it is refereeing, in first aid or in administration. It is a great opportunity for them."
Harden, who will link with the Sydney Roosters for this year’s NRLW competition after playing with the Broncos last year, said rugby league provided more opportunities than just for players.
"There are so many opportunities to still be involved in the game even if you aren’t playing. Everything behind the scenes is so much more important in terms of organisation, sports medicine, player care, refereeing, coaching,” she said.
"Without all of those wonderful people behind the scenes, I don’t think the game would be what it is today. To have a partnership between TAFE Queensland and the QRL – with those diplomas and that education - it’s really special.”
QRL Chief Operating Officer Rohan Sawyer said the opportunity to partner with Queensland’s largest and most experienced training provider was a significant development for the code.
"Students will study events management, learn how to develop coaching programs and increase business acumen. This study is coupled with 120 hours of code-specific behind-the-scenes training with QRL coaches and staff," he said.
"This course could also upskill current rugby league staff, officials, coaches and volunteers to further their careers and lead the future of rugby league in Queensland."
Arrow has a long history with Queensland TAFE and will soon have his own valuable trade qualification.
"I’m a third-year plumber and it is a four-year course so I’m not far away. I should have been finished years ago but I had to put it on hold a little bit because I am doing my dream job at the moment," he said.
"Hopefully I have a few good years in me. I am 24 now and hopefully I can get to 30, 31 or 32.
"You only have a short time frame to play footy and you have always got to have a back-up. I am doing my plumbing apprenticeship and hopefully I can get my ticket soon and hang my feet up until I have to fall back on it."
Harden, a speech pathologist, is also a player who has walked the talk when it comes to education and self-improvement.
"I’ve always valued education. As a young kid, you kind of don’t know what you’re going to do but as I got older I wanted to be a speech pathologist and pursued that at university," she said.
"In saying that, I’ve had a lot of friends go through TAFE. Regardless of what institution or where you’re studying, just that push for education is huge."
The Maroons Academy Program will see students complete training in the following:
* Diploma of Sports Development (SIS50612)
* Sports Medicine Australia Level 1 Sports Trainer Certificate
* Australian Strength and Conditioning Association Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach
* Rugby League First Aid Certificate
* Club Coaching Certificate
* Referee Foundation 1 Certificate
Students will be able to register their interest via the link below to start in early 2020. www.tafeqld.edu.au/maroonsacademy.