A trickle of students from South Adelaide Football Club has turned into a flood at Flinders thanks to the life-changing partnership between the organisations.
Since 2009, when only two players were enrolled at Flinders, more than 40 South Adelaide players have studied everything from education, to sport and physiotherapy, to law and finance.
Flinders Sponsorships and Partnerships Manager Darlene Voss said many of those students would never have attended university otherwise, demonstrating how the relationship was providing crucial career paths and helping young Panthers to stay on track after football.
Panthers player Nick Liddle, who is in his final year of an education and health sciences double degree, said university hadn’t been part of his plans until he took part in a Flinders-run healthy eating and nutrition program at South Adelaide.
Now he hopes to become a PE teacher – something he says he had dreamed of but never believed could happen.
A key plank of Flinders’ engagement with South Adelaide is a special program through the University’s Sport, Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) Research Centre, led by Professor Murray Drummond, which on top of offering players first-hand experience of AFL draft camp conditions, also coaches the club’s junior players on how to have a successful career after the AFL.
“The comprehensive two day training program includes access to elite fitness testing, leading edge technology, coaching, mentoring and education while also encouraging them to think about life after football,” said Ms Voss.
In return South Adelaide has been offering Flinders students work experience in education, health and sport management, physiotherapy, nutrition, dietetics, business, education and media skills.
South Adelaide chief executive Neill Sharpe said the club has also recently employed one of the students who came to the club on work experience.
He said around 40 per cent of the club’s senior playing group were currently enrolled or had recently graduated from the university.