Another piece of the puzzle is added. Taking a step in the right direction, increasing depth in the Super W program, the Western Force enters a new era of rugby, evolving beyond what the club has ever seen before.
High-performance manager Claudia Bell states, "I'm not surprised that the Force, after generating my role, are the first ever in the country to initiate a semi-professional Super W Academy program.
"It shows where Force's priorities are. It's an essential step in any club to employ someone in my role as the manager to foster the progression and establish depth in the program creating a funnel that ultimately makes the program succeed. It is a huge accomplishment for the Western Force to have the foresight to put an Academy program together and give it the backing it needs."
Approaching training holistically with the majority of Academy and Super W players supporting full-time jobs or acting as working mothers, training is positioned around their schedules while still incorporating professional standards.
"If we act where we want to be in three years, that is full-time fully paid professional athletes; we act that way now," Bell asserted.
"The Academy players will be paid through a scholarship, like the men's program, all receiving a lump sum payment. This is to establish professionalism and the mannerisms we aspire for our female athletes to possess. By receiving this payment, these girls will have a taste of what being a professional athlete is required to do, paving the way for good habits leading into their careers."
The Academy program will be used to advance athletes into the top squad, training in 4-6 week blocks in combination with club commitments aiming to elevate them as more impactful players come the 2024 Super W season.
"At the moment, we have only named seven girls in the Super W Academy, but we will look to expand that number post-season. The Academy program is for players under the age of 21 or who we think need further development and could advance through our investment in them as holistic players. At the same time, the Academy program will be used to further positions that are required within the squad. For example, hooker is an under-resourced position for us; we will target this at a youth level in the Academy," Bell comments.
The Super W Academy players include;
· Hannah Palelei
· Sofaia Talemairaa
· Chelsea Wulff
· Cara Gerber
· Rosie McGehan
· Zoe Gillard