ST Columba Anglican School believes Port Macquarie can be a nursery for the next generation of sporting stars.
It is one of the reasons they have launched the Iona Talented Athlete Program (ITAP) headed by former Australian volleyball captain Dave Beard.
Applicants, from years 7-12, receive personalised programs, mentoring, academic monitoring, assistance and guidance so that they can reach their sporting goals.
School principal Terry Muldoon said the school has recognised how much of an impact sport is having not just on campus, but in the community.
“It was getting so big that we couldn’t rely on teachers anymore, so we looked to hire a multitude of experts,” he said.
“I’m not talking about just coaches, but people who underpin what makes a good sportsperson, such as nutritionists and mental coaches.
“Psychology, resilience, nutrition and psychological strength are key components in every sport which is why the talented athlete program has been created.”
Beard is employed as the co-curricular sports and activities manager at St Columba.
“He is a highly talented former sports star, who has excelled by captaining the Australian volleyball team at two Olympics,” Mr Muldoon said.
“He, and his team, will look at developing the students all around, not just to be incredibly good at sport.
“Our goal is to ensure they are good at being able to recover from injuries, balance life and school, and take a loss and bounce back.”
Mr Beard said there were two main reasons he wanted to develop the program.
“Firstly to engage as many kids as possible in sport, and help those kids to reach their potential,” he said.
“On top of that, having been an elite athlete myself I understand the demands and sacrifices it takes to make it far.
“I’m hoping the program will help to support these kids and their current coaches to maintain excellence in their sport as well as their academic, which is very important.”