NSW Origin Legends (NSWOL) arrived in Lismore yesterday to begin their three-day Learn Earn Legend! initiative. It includes a corporate golf day (yesterday), an indigenous jobs market (today) and a rugby league coaching clinic (tomorrow).
The campaign is a partnership with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). It aims to support indigenous school leavers and job seekers in completing education pathways and securing a job. More importantly, the idea is to ‘become a legend’ both personally and as a member of their community.
The ‘legends’ need to have played at least one State of Origin game and must be retired from the Origin matches. There is a pool of members that contribute to a variety of programs.
Attending the Corporate Golf Day yesterday was Chris Anderson (NSWOL CEO), Max Krilich (NSWOL GM), Paul Sirronen, Scott Hill, Steve Martin, Steve Carter and Dean Widders.
Chris Anderson says that ‘mentoring is fundamental. Through our experience we can not only help the kids with their football, but with their education as well. Football doesn’t last forever.’
Steve Carter admitted that he was one of the footballers who thought it would last forever. ‘one or two years after retiring I thought I should have done a bit more planning. I can share, from my experience, what not to do.’
Most of these footballers played in an era where they had to hold down jobs in addition to playing at an elite level. Could that be an advantage and better preparation for retirement?
Chris Anderson responded ‘Work was just an extension of football so it wasn’t a big deal to finish football and move on.’
Modern footballers don’t have to work and not all players are guaranteed football-related employment.
‘Players can become institutionalised so it’s really important to prepare yourself for work opportunities, whether you are a professional athlete or not!’ said Scott Hill.
The National Rugby League (NRL) has recognised the need for transition and Max Krilich advised ‘that most clubs are now taking this into account. It has been a detriment to the NRL that this hasn’t been in place for the last 10 years!’
Steve Martin added that ‘there isn’t the mentoring that we had from senior footballers in today’s game. Players move between teams more now and tend to look after themselves. Organisations like NSWOL recognise that players need help with mentoring too.’
In NSW, Rugby League is the most popular game and players are influential, particular to young people. Paul Sirronen pointed out ‘…we always hear about the bad things in the media, but all NRL teams have charities and give back a lot to communities.’
Dean Widders continued. ‘As an ex-footballer, that influence needs to be used in a positive way. There is a culture in playing football where you work really hard. We need to share this inspiration, particularly with indigenous youths.’
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell is supporting the Lismore indigenous jobs market today along with over 40 local and national exhibitors. The market will be interactive, showing clear pathways to achieve employment.
‘These days there are many pathways to achieve career goals,’ Steve Carter enlightened. ‘In my era, if you didn’t get the marks, all over. Look for something else. ’
This initiative highlights the reality that young disadvantaged youth need to prepare for employment just like elite footballers do.