KICKING GOALS AT ACADEMY
Up and coming footballers now have a new and unique pathway to finishing their schooling while developing their game in an elite setting courtesy of The Academy.
An education program for Year 11 and 12 students, The Academy simulates a high performance environment and looks to engage its pupils in a way that sets it apart from a regular school.
Take Shepparton’s Brayden George as an example, after feeling disengaged with school the talented 17-year-old took the plunge and moved away from home to join The Academy’s Wangaratta campus in a bid to further his progress on the field and in the classroom.
George explained the reasons why he chose to join this new initiative.
“Joining The Academy was all about taking my footy to the next level, I really wasn’t that engaged at school and felt I needed a bit of a change,” George said.
“I was invited to the Melbourne one initially, but I was only 16 at the time, so I thought moving away from home would have been a bit too soon — but then the one in Wangaratta popped up and I thought I may as well take it because it is closer to footy over here and I just feel good about the whole idea.”
An extremely different method of study, he outlined what separates The Academy from a regular school.
“A normal day goes until 1pm with normal classes and after that you do your footy sessions and gym sessions,” he said.
“We have a facility up here which has a big gym and pool which is a lot different and it is just much more of a professional environment that gets you in that professional mindset and gears you up for what life at an AFL club would be like.”
Built on the premise of giving student athletes numerous career pathways away from football, The Academy founder Alex Rance detailed his motivation behind starting the program.
“I saw a lot of my friends in the AFL system not really having a ‘Plan B’ if they got delisted, so I wanted to create a better pathway for people who are passionate about football to finish their schooling and leave with multiple options beyond football,” Rance said.
“There are multiple components to The Academy program including the high performance program which focuses on strength and conditioning and footy skills as well as the literacy and numeracy and work related skills which are all required to be successful in any form of business.
“The success measure for us is about that sense of clarity the students have once they leave, that they can clearly see that this is who I am, I have a really good idea of who I am and what my strengths and weaknesses are and this is where I want to go moving forward.”
Having recently opened up the campus in Wangaratta, Rance said developing further into regional Victoria was one of the program’s top priorities.
“A massive motivator for us was that family is so important for youth development in feeling comfortable and establishing good values, so for a student at 16 years of age to leave home and go to the city I don’t feel is very fair for those living in the country,” he said.
“So it has been a big plan for us to expand out into the country to Wangaratta, Geelong, Ballarat and other places to support more regional areas in Victoria, so it is definitely something that is on our radar moving forward.”
To those people thinking of getting involved with The Academy, George had this message.
“It is really up to the person, but if they like footy and learning new things about footy I reckon it is a really good move,” George said.
“Everyday is just learning new stuff about the game which is really helping me, especially on the weekend implementing all that information — I could not speak highly enough of the program.”