Northern Inland Academy of Sport athletes are set to benefit from a “major partnership” between the organisation and the University of New England.
The partnership will allow NIAS greater access to UNE facilities along with the introduction of a scholarship program.
NIAS chief executive officer James Cooper described the partnership as “enormous” for the academy.
“We've been partnered with UNE for a period of time now but it's increased to benefit our athletes directly,” Cooper said.
“Athletes now get use of the facilities at an agreed fee at the university and also get access to the sports science wing.
“Lecturers, professors and university students will work with the NIAS athletes to collaborate data and monitor their improvements and identify areas for development.
“It increases the professionalism of our program and on the back of that, a yearly scholarship will go to athletes.”
Cooper said two athletes – one female and one male – would receive the annual scholarship.
“It’ll be an access-based scholarship and they’ll get access to facilities down at UNE,” Cooper said.
“Not only does it expose kids to what it means to be at the top level, it’s an opportunity to better themselves off the field through education.
“Everyone that comes in has a dream, a goal, to play at the top level in sport. We foster that goal and hopefully it comes to fruition but this opportunity provides a pathway if injury strikes, for instance.”
Cooper said NIAS was hoping to extend the partnership in the future.
“The university is very open minded and we’re both [UNE and NIAS] hopeful of growing it year on year,” Cooper said.
“It’s [partnership] happening for three years at the minute but something we’re looking at longer term and something we’re hoping to grow for the benefit of everyone.”