THE Illawarra Rugby League is encouraging all players and volunteers with educational aspirations to apply for a new scholarship launched in conjunction with the University of Wollongong on Wednesday.
As part of a two-year agreement, UOW College will provide up to $20,000 in course fees to a player or volunteer affiliated with the IDRL competitions.
The innovative program aims to offer opportunities to, not just players, but also club volunteers, to pursue their educational goals.
“It’s designed to recognise a player or a volunteer at the grass roots of club level, who’s demonstrated sporting success or significant accomplishments in community service for the clubs,” UOW College general manager Julie Renwick said.
IDRL board member John Brannon said the scholarship is aimed at recognising the game’s “unsung heroes.”
“We recognise that players’ development off the field is just as important as their performance on it,” Brannon said.
“To re-enforce what we might call this ‘whole of person’ concept, the scholarship will not be awarded simply for on-field performance, but will take account of the leadership our applicants show and how much of a good sport they are off the field.
“These non-sporting criteria are important since, while sporting scholarships are traditionally awarded to people for sporting excellence, the UOW College scholarship is also open to volunteers.
“It’s a hard slog giving up your weekends to be a gear steward, work in the canteen or be a ground manager when you’re standing out in the middle of winter in an open park.
“The volunteers tend to do these things for many decades, far longer than the players they are actually supporting. It’s our pleasure, through the generosity of the University of Wollongong College, to help one of our players, volunteers or match officials, with their growth and development.
“We have over 5000 players, volunteers and match officials across our rugby league competitions and we therefore anticipate that this scholarship will be fiercely competitive.”
Applications for the scholarship are now open. The application form and eligibility criteria can be downloaded from the IDRL website with applications to close on Sunday August 12.