Inaugural diploma graduates at Port Adelaide Academy of Sport kick-off their careers

John Kleeman dreamt of working for his boyhood AFL club Port Adelaide and has now fulfilled his ambition by graduating from a Diploma in Sports Management.

His new sports administration role will foster opportunities to work with the club’s key corporate partners and build relationships that benefit its 64 thousand strong members.

John joined 37 inaugural graduates receiving their diploma at a special ceremony at the new state-of-the-art Alberton Oval precinct on Tuesday 13 February. Supported by former Port Adelaide Captain Tom Jonas at their graduation, the students have spent the past year embedded with the clubs’ staff and management at the Port Adelaide Academy of Sport.

The academy is a joint initiative between Flinders University and the Port Adelaide Football Club which offers a unique pathway for students with a passion for AFL and sports. The inaugural graduates have developed business and management skills to springboard them into careers in Australia’s growing sporting industries.

12 graduates have gone a step further and embraced pathways unique to the diploma by enrolling in bachelor’s degrees in business, sport and education at Flinders University’s new city campus and at Bedford Park.

With 63 students about to embark on their journey at the academy, the collaboration with PAFC reflects Flinders University’s commitment to provide students with learning opportunities that inspire them. This includes unprecedented access to the club’s professional knowledge and facilities when studying a first-of-its-kind sport education pathway in South Australia.

Flinders University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students) Professor Romy Lawson says the diploma graduation ceremony is an important milestone for students, marking their achievements and future prospects in the Australian sports industry.

“Underpinned by the quality pedigree of a Flinders University curriculum, our inaugural graduates have gained valuable sports industry experience and applied themselves across both the men’s and women’s programs, through 100 hours of hands-on work experience with the Port Adelaide Football Club. Since its inception, this curriculum has been developed to foster work integrated learning opportunities at the highest AFL level.”

“The graduates have taken knowledge learnt in the classroom and applied it on game days and throughout the season to develop their marketing, event and sport management skills. We know there is no better way to learn than by applying new skills in a real-world setting. Flinders congratulates all our graduates on their successful journey.”

Graduate John Kleeman started his journey working at the Port Store while studying and is now a commercial coordinator with Port Adelaide.

“I’ve barracked for Port Adelaide from a young age and this new professional role with the club really is a dream come true. Studying the diploma has transformed into an opportunity of a lifetime to make a real contribution in the AFL with my boyhood club. I look forward to learning about the operations of the club and contributing to its overall success in the AFL,” says John.

“The curriculum gave me real-world insights into the running of an AFL club and an understanding of how large sporting organisations achieve positive results on and off the field. This is only possible because students are embedded with the club and we complete our studies with the staff and management.”

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