SCU and RISE Football Academy Partnership Aims for ‘Best on Ground’ in Life

Dr Kyle Bennett (second from left) lead researcher from Southern Cross University and Matt Snell (holding ball) founder of Rise Coffs Harbour with some Rise players.


RISE Coffs Harbour Community Outreach Football Academy’s player development model is the subject of a new research project for Southern Cross University that explores the power of football.

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Not every aspiring footballer will be the next Sam Kerr or Tim Cahill, yet the local community outreach football academy is producing youngsters who aim to be ‘best on ground’ in life, in the first instance, by removing financial barriers to participation.

The research project is investigating how RISE Coffs Harbour’s player development model achieves positive mental health outcomes and life skills for 10 to 18-year-olds on the NSW Mid North Coast.

In just a few short years, RISE Coffs Harbour has taken a crucial step in pointing in the right direction young players from disadvantaged socio-economic, cultural and ethnic groups, who usually do not receive opportunities to contest selection in academy developmental programs.

All players receive a scholarship to cover the cost of taking part, thereby breaking down any barriers to participation, in exchange for their involvement in volunteering and community engagement activities.

“The relationship between Southern Cross University and RISE Coffs Harbour arose in an attempt to challenge the current over-professionalisation of youth sport, where players are often required to pay a premium price to access high-quality coaching and academy developmental programs,” said project lead Dr Kyle Bennett, a lecturer in sport and exercise science based at the University’s Coffs Harbour campus.

“Many football academies (either advertently or inadvertently) favour short-term success over long-term, holistic development, creating an environment where players have to survive rather than prosper.”

The research project will enable more than 60 players and coaching staff from RISE Coffs Harbour to gain access to the Coffs campus facilities along with the expertise of the University’s accredited sports scientists, psychologists, and academic staff.

“We view the collaboration with Southern Cross University as a significant step towards highlighting the paramount importance of producing strong, resilient, and well-rounded young adults instead of just good footballers,” said Matt Snell, president and founder of RISE Coffs Harbour.

“We provide players with enriching and challenging ways to help their local community, develop
their life skills, and enhance their future employment potential,” said Mr Snell.

“For example, our players volunteer as part of our outreach program to help organisations like Wesley Mission, Meals on Wheels, and Surf Lifesaving Australia.”


By Sandra MOON

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