Date published: 19 August 2010
The AFL Players Association and Open Universities Australia have announced a major sponsorship agreement, which will see OUA support continuing education for current and past AFL players and their support teams.
St Kilda champion Nick Dal Santo has been appointed ambassador for the partnership. He joined football legend David Parkin, OUA General Manager Cratis Hippocrates and AFL Players Association (AFLPA) CEO Matt Finnis to launch the sponsorship at the MCG.
Under the three-year sponsorship agreement, OUA will:
- Provide five 'Learning for Life Scholarships' annually for players who have been retired for longer than three years.
- Support a mentoring program to support players taking up study for the first time or recently returning to study.
- Become naming rights sponsor for the AFL Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) and the Player Development Award under the Madden Medal.
Mr Hippocrates said OUA is delighted to partner with the AFL Players' Association and support world-class education and training opportunities for AFL players and their support teams.
Nick Dal Santo said he was excited about taking on the OUA education ambassador role, which would involve spreading the word to his fellow players and their support crews about the benefits of online study.
"For me, studying through OUA has been fantastic because it gives me the flexibility to study around training, travelling and playing commitments," he said.
"If you need to take time out to study during an intense period in footy, you can - with the freedom to resume when it works for you. And the qualifications are well recognised. When you complete a degree through OUA, you graduate from the university offering the course."
The announcement came as the AFLPA released new figures showing that AFL players are engaging in university and further education study in record numbers.
It also follows a just-published study* by the Australian Sports Commission and Australian Institute of Sport that shows education and off-field interests can assist playing performance and career duration.
The study of 143 elite athletes found that 72 per cent of those surveyed thought that their sporting performance had benefited from them undertaking education or employment during their sporting careers. More than 90 per cent believed these nonsporting activities helped to extend the length of their on-field careers.
Nick Dal Santo echoed the findings saying; "As someone who is completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Sports Administration through Open Universities Australia, I can vouch for the fact that off-field study can help you achieve on-field success."
Former Carlton and Hawthorn legend David Parkin, who is currently completing a similar study of current AFL players, said that there was a real need for AFL players to develop themselves personally in non-football activities.
"This assists them in their day-to-day activities during their playing days and ensures life after football has meaning, fulfilment and an income stream for the remainder of their lives."
"The beauty of OUA is that studies can be done at the student's convenience and not restricted to a set timetable. It is perfect for elite athletes and others who want to study while continuing their employment or other activities," Mr Hippocrates said.
* Nathan Price, Life out of the Limelight: Understanding the Nonsporting Pursuits of Elite Athletes, The International Journal of Sport and Society, Vol1, No 3, 2010