The best athletes have a balanced approach to their football and their life.
The NRL CareerWise program has been designed to enhance performance, to help NRL athletes play a better game on the field and in every area of life, including work, school and further education.
Every club has a qualified Career Coach whose job it is to deliver the CareerWise program and help players plan for life after sport. The program is delivered to players of all ages from elite juniors (U16s and U18s) to State League players, U20s and NRL players.
Based on best practice in career development, the program is there as support through every age and stage. It will helps players make well-informed choices about their future career. It will also help pave the way for the future by helping players engage in work, study, work experience, volunteer work and networking that will help them make a smooth transition from professional athlete to professional something-else.
Players who have already experienced CareerWise are unstinting in their praise for the help it has given them.
Trade Up with NRL
The NRL has built a further partnership with the Australian Government, through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Education to develop a mentoring program to help players complete their apprenticeships. Titled Trade Up with NRL, this program has a particular focus on trades within areas of identified skills shortage, including recreation, construction, related trades and hospitality.
Started in 2013, this two and a half year project provides information on industry trends, help identify the barriers that stop some players completing their apprenticeships, and come up with solutions to improve completion rates.
Retired NRL players who themselves have a trade qualification have been engaged and trained as mentors across the fifteen Australian clubs. They use their own successful experiences of achieving their trade to help younger players follow in their footsteps.
No Work, No Study, No Play
The NRL has been so serious about the importance of a balanced approach to sport, study and work amongst their players that they instituted this policy for the National Youth Competition back in 2008.
It works by mandating that all players in the Under 20s program must work and/or study for at least 24 hours per week to be eligible to play. This has made sure players are not left behind by their peers, either on the field, in the classroom or at work. To allow this to happen clubs are not allowed to schedule compulsory training between the hours of 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
It also helps instil an understanding that work and perseverance bring their own reward by helping to build a person's character.