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Dolphins team up with UniSC

Posted: 1pm 27 Jul 2022

As the Dolphins take their place in the NRL next year, the Moreton Bay Region’s own university campus will be front and centre in a partnership combining education and sport.

The University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC), which opened its campus at Petrie in 2020, today announced an education partnership with the NRL’s newest team.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Bartlett says the partnership will underpin a range of study and sport opportunities to inspire the region’s young people to tackle their career passions, on campus and on the field.

Professor Bartlett says the partnership will focus on community engagement and increase UniSC and the Dolphins’ brand presence in the region.

“I think this is something that’s so close to the hearts of both organisations,” she says.

|“Together, we will be partnering to reach our young people and young families to open up the opportunities to engage in sport and in study. We know that this area has one of the lowest higher education participation rates in the country and we think this partnership will really help to inspire young people, families and youth in the area.|

“We know that rugby league has a really strong fan base in the region and we thought this was a great opportunity to partner with an organisation that’s looking to increase its brand and profile. What better opportunity for us to partner and add to the growing number of partnerships that we already have across the region.

“We are already partnering with over 30 businesses across the Moreton Bay Region and this partnership will add another really strong opportunity for us to improve our reach and get into our community.”

How it will work

Professor Bartlett says an initial example of how it will work is next year’s introduction of Sports and Exercise Science studies at UniSC Moreton Bay, with the Dolphins to provide opportunities for work-integrated learning and research.

“That means our students will have opportunities to engage with the Dolphins through work-integrated learning and internships. Our staff will have opportunities to engage in research partnering with the Dolphins in time,” she explains.

“We know it will be a very popular opportunity and it won’t be just the sports and exercise science students, it will be students from business, nutrition, events management, communications … we think all of these students would benefit from partnering and getting work experience.”

Deal is a win, win

Dolphins NRL CEO Terry Reader says community engagement and education connections for Dolphins’ players are key goals of the partnership.

Mr Reader says it is a perfect example of why the Dolphins are in the competition.

“Many devoted rugby league families will be following our team next year, so we hope to demonstrate the importance of education right through to post-secondary study options,” Mr Reader says.

|“The biggest thing about the partnership with the university is actually the expertise we get to carry out things that are important to our club. Research is a big part and there’s no better organisation to do research than a university. We’re really excited about what we can do in those areas.|

“Another pleasing benefit of the partnership with UniSC will be that our school-aged players in the Dolphins’ Academy programs will be able to engage with the university’s staff and students, which will add to their personal development.

“Like any football club, it’s not just about the 34 in your NRL top list. We’ve got young players contracted from 15 (years) and making sure we give them options about what life looks like after football or studying during their early career and days of playing football. The university partnership allows us to bring that together as well.”

Dolphins NRL CEO Terry Reader, student Olivia Duck and UniSC Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Bartlett

Golden opportunity to learn

UniSC student Olivia Duck, in her second year of a Bachelor of Business degree, has a keen interest in sports marketing and would relish the opportunity to gain work experience at the Dolphins.

She grew up on the Redcliffe peninsula and has supported the Redcliffe Dolphins at Hostplus Cup (QCup) games on many occasions.

“It’s a very exciting partnership. Obviously, I grew up in the Moreton Bay Region (Redcliffe), so it was a no-brainer to come to UniSC and the fact that we get to be in this partnership with work-integrated learning as well … Work-integrated learning is a big part of our degree. It gives us the opportunity to put theory into practise,” she says.

“I am a fan of rugby league. I really love the NRL. I have a really passionate interest in sports marketing, so the fact that I can potentially get a job after I graduate and doing it locally and still in the Moreton Bay Region is really exciting.”

Dolphins’ NRL team takes shape

There’s been much talk about the players the Dolphins should or shouldn’t sign. So, how is the club feeling about their roster so far?

“There’s no doubt everyone’s fixated on who’s going to play five-eighth – that’s been sorted, so I think people can move on to worrying about another position now,” Mr Reader says.

“We’ve signed 25 players now, there’s a lot of things happening. The player market is fluid, things change on a daily and hourly basis and as we get closer to the deadline day on August 1 this weekend, where players can transfer out of their current club, that might change a few things of what 2023 looks like as well.

|“We’re really comfortable about where we’re at but I think the other key ingredient when you think about it is … a lot of people are talking about players who we should be signing, the reality is you can’t sign a player if their contract is somewhere else.|

“Patience … if we have to wait a year or 12 months to get the right player, we will.”

When asked if Cameron Munster could play at fullback, Mr Reader doesn’t miss a beat.

“There’s a lot of talk about that position and who might play it. At the moment, we can only concentrate on players who are off-contract for 2023 and that’s what we’re doing,” he says.

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