Launched in 2016, and in its pilot year of the program, The UWA Sport Student Athlete Development program assists both elite and emerging student athletes in reaching their potential in high performance sport.
As part of the program, UWA Sport bursaries are designed to support promising student athletes in attaining excellence in their chosen sport while maintaining high standards of academic achievement. The program looks to achieve this through contributing to the costs associated with equipment and competition fees for young athletes.
Of the five categories available, 2016 was the pioneering year for the UWA Sport Indigenous Athlete Bursary, awarded to UWA Student and Djugan women Brianna Ozies.
Before applying to the UWA Sport Bursary program Brianna struggled with the fees and costs associated with competing as an elite swimmer. “I didn’t have my own equipment except for a pair of old bathers, a cap and a pair of goggles…training in the lead up to events I would have to borrow old, used equipment, and felt embarrassed to attend training, lacking confidence in the water when I did.”
Being unable to consistently compete at meets, had a huge effect on Brianna’s training processes and left Brianna lacking the motivation to complete her swims. Constantly out of pocket and without finical support, Brianna felt she was unable to reach her full potential. “There were many competitions I could not part take in due to the cost of registration and the costs incurred through travel.”
After successfully applying for and being accepted into the program Brianna began training for her next big challenge, tackling a gruelling twenty kilometres of open water for the Rottnest Channel Swim in February. “When I received my first payment of the Bursary, I was finally able to purchase my own equipment. I would come to training with more enthusiasm and be able to do the sets with other swimmers with confidence.”
The second payment allowed Brianna to enter into the Swimming WA Open Water Series, consisting of a series of races in several rural areas including Geraldton, Harvey and Bunbury. The series presented the perfect opportunity for Brianna to train and prepare for racing in open water conditions, and on the 25th of February 2017, Brianna made history as part of the first all indigenous duo to complete the Rottnest Channel Swim. “Without this program, I could never have afforded to travel to the events in the open water series, and without that training I don’t think I could have completed the swim.”
Student-Athlete Development Manger Sue Gliddon, is the programs biggest Champion. “One of the highlights of the bursary is the inclusion of a Sports mentoring opportunity offered to our athletes. We were able to pair her (Brianna) up with UWA Alumni Heidi Gan, who has twice represented Malaysia at the London and Rio Olympics competing in the Open Water event.”
The UWA Sport Bursary Program is open now and closes Sunday 16 April. For more information on the program, or to apply visit sport.uwa.edu.au/sports-and-teams
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