Thirty-seven athletes from 19 sports and 21 tertiary institutions have been awarded more than $100,000 in AIS Education Scholarships, a program supporting athletes to be successful in sport, education and life.
Paddle Australia’s Caitlin Webber is among the athletes receiving this round of AIS Education Scholarships. A key feature of this year’s expanded program is supporting athletes with education earlier in their high performance sporting careers. More than three-quarters of athletes awarded scholarships in this round are categorised as ‘Developing’ or ‘Emerging’, the first two steps on an Australian athlete’s journey to becoming an international medallist.
The AIS Education Scholarship program is doubling from last year’s inaugural program and offering a total $200,000 in scholarships for 2021-22, thanks to support from the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation. A second round will open in March 2022.
Mr Wylie, former Chair of the Australian Sports Commission, said “sport and education is a winning mix. Every athlete goes into competition with a game-plan, this program with the AIS is about helping more Australian athletes to pursue education as part of their broader life plan. Every athlete receiving one of these grants has talents beyond the sporting arena, you just have to look at the breadth of education courses they’re undertaking. There’s health education like paramedics, speech pathology, sonography and medicine, though to diverse areas such as science, commerce, design, engineering and so much more.
“Our message to athletes is sporting success doesn’t have to be at the sacrifice of other ambitions, especially education and career pathways. If we can encourage more athletes to engage with education at the start of their sporting careers, we’ll no doubt have more successful leaders emerging from sport and into their communities.”
Webber was grateful to the AIS for selecting her as a recipient.
“My education is a highly valued aspect of my life, along with my athletic and social identity. I hold great importance on creating and living with a balance of all life areas as it allows for life outside of sport to secure a future, the opportunity to be extended physically and mentally, and promote mental peace and wellbeing,” Webber said.
“Attaining an education as an elite athlete hasn’t come without its challenges though, as training requirements leave me with limited time.
“University provides a space for me to excel outside of my sport and also allows me to set myself up for a life outside of my sporting career. I have always loved working with children and have wanted to be a teacher for a few years now.
“My plans are to finish my degree, which this scholarship has provided me with assistance to do, which will allow me to hopefully pursue a career in teaching in my chosen subject areas,” she said.
The AIS has prioritised athlete education and created more specialised athlete support by building its Elite Athlete Education Network (EAEN) across the country.
AIS CEO Peter Conde said: “The AIS now has formal links with more than 40 universities and 12 TAFEs, giving Australian athletes greater choice and flexibility with their education support. Our priority is to support those athletes who demonstrate a genuine commitment to study and can use their own experiences to inspire and benefit others, in sport and the broader community.”