Scholarships to help athletes perform

February 16, 2024 BY

No barriers: Federation University WestVic Academy of Sport’s new scholarships will aim to lift a load for local athletes around training and competition costs. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE Federation University WestVic Academy of Sport has launched a new scholarship fund.

The aim of the initiative is to assist young high-performing athletes, and their families, to cover the expenses that come with training and competing at an elite level.

“We’ve done a complete review of our operations, sports programs, what’s working, what’s not working, and how we can keep the athletes front-of-mind,” said academy CEO Shenae Keleher.

“We noted that a majority of our athletes are juniors going through high school, which is an important but also very busy period of their lives.

“We’ve observed the load they’re taking on, between school, homework, sports training and competitions, and we want to try and fill the gaps in areas they may otherwise miss out on.”

The new scholarships have been designed to help athletes in a “wholistic” way, offering support around performance, strength and conditioning, fitness testing, and injury recovery, to things like nutrition and mindset coaching.

“There’s also a lot of costs for parents and guardians across equipment, competition fees, and registrations, so under the scholarships, money would also be reimbursed to help them cover costs,” Keleher said.

“Being in a regional area, there are already increased costs to just attend competitions in Melbourne, or to travel further.

“In the financial climate that we’re in, this is a way of giving back to our local kids and their families, and a way we can support local service providers and community groups.”

The scholarship fund has stemmed from other initiatives which were unable to go ahead due to the cancellation of the 2026 Regional Victorian Commonwealth Games.

“We applied for City of Ballarat partnership grants at this time last year when everyone was preparing for Comm Games,” Keleher said.

“We were putting programs together to support local athletes to train for the games, but by the time the outcome came through for the grants, the games had been cancelled.

“However, a small part of that was starting to look at putting a scholarship fund together for local athletes so we’ve pivoted and leant into the scholarship.

“A lot of athletes were disheartened that the Commonwealth Games had been cancelled, so this is a nice way to give back to the local community. It’s a great time to do it.”