Young footballers from South Adelaide Football Club have been getting a taste of AFL Draft Camp this week, thanks to Flinders University’s Sport Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) Research Centre.
How high they can jump, how well they eat, how fast they run, how quickly they recover and how far they can kick have all been under the microscope during a unique two-day Elite Development Academy at Flinders’ Bedford Park Campus.
While it’s a rare chance to get the kind of advanced assessment and advice that most players don’t get until they are at least 18, SHAPE Centre Director, Professor Murray Drummond, said it was also a valuable opportunity for the players to learn some important lessons about life beyond football.
Professor Drummond is one of Australia’s leading authorities on masculinity and body image, and has published widely on issues relating to masculinities and health.
“One of the other really important things about this event is that it’s bringing some of these kids onto a university campus for the first time, which we hope may have an impact on what they want to beyond sport,” he said.
“Yes, we’re doing a lot of the kind of testing that goes on at AFL Draft Camp, but the reality is that 40-plus kids aren’t all going to make it to the AFL, so we hope that they’ll also see that if it doesn’t work out for them, there are other options to be involved in and enjoy sport.
“By coming onto university grounds they’ll see academics with satisfying careers in other areas of sport and physical activity, plus they’ll learn about a whole range of other things that will benefit them in their personal lives as well as their sports careers.”
Professor Drummond said the event demonstrated the SHAPE Research Centre’s multidisciplinary approach of incorporating social responsibility, community engagement and the health sciences in its work.
“The players will work with high calibre academics like Dr Sam Elliott, who has been integral to developing our program with SAFC, and Associate Professor Claire Drummond, who is Associate Head of Faculty (Teaching and Learning) in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders,” he said.
“This will include physiological testing, as well as providing them with information on nutrition and things such as social and cultural issues, which will be significant for them as they move towards elite level status in their sport.”
SAFC Chief Executive Evan Arnold said utilising the SHAPE Research Centre for the Southgate Holden Panthers Academy Program was a significant addition to an ongoing partnership with Flinders University which already played a key role in the culture of South Adelaide.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our young players to get the kind of high quality training, assessment and mentoring that some of them might never otherwise get the opportunity to experience,” Mr Arnold said.
“Bringing these players to Flinders University to undertake parts of the program shows our genuine commitment to our players’ holistic development, and we hope it is a strong motivating factor in their athletic and personal development.
“Our partnership with Flinders University and the Shape Centre continues to be enhanced through strong collaboration, and it is initiatives such as this which make the partnership beneficial for both parties.”
Flinders University’s SHAPE Research Centre, which has just been launched this year, sits within the University’s Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law.
The Centre provides high quality research services and policy advice on sport, community health, health promotion and physical education and activity.