NRL School to Work helps students come full circle

The NRL's School to Work program, which supports and encourages Indigenous students to finish high school and move onto further education or employment, has helped another two aspiring students on the path towards their chosen career.

School to Work participant Glenda Smith, who is in her final year of schooling at Ringwood Secondary College while taking on a Certificate III in Sports and Recreation, has been involved in the program for the past 12 months where she has expressed her passion for sport and her ambition to work in the sporting industry.

As part of her commitment to her Sport and Recreation Certificate, the year 12 student was required to undertake work placement and the NRL's School to Work team in Melbourne offered her the opportunity to learn the ropes from game development officers.

"I have always played sport as far as I can remember, and it has always been a big part of my life," Smith said.

"I have loved being a part of the NRL School to Work program, as it has given me the unique opportunity to gain experience in the area that I am passionate in.

"Through this opportunity I am now completing my Level 1 referees and coaching course, so it will give me the opportunity to work within game development.

"The support that I have been given throughout my schooling has provided me with self-belief and confidence that I can achieve my career goals."

During her time on placement, she assisted with the implementation and delivery of the program in various schools around Melbourne, promoting rugby league and teaching students the fundamentals and techniques.

NRL game development officer Pauline Poloai, who has been instrumental in teaching and supporting Glenda within the role, said she was a delight to have as part of the team.

"From day one Glenda brought such a positive attitude and was keen to learn and gain experience in an elite environment," Poloai said.

"We have loved having her here every week, and has been a fantastic asset to the team."

The program - which is supported by the Federal Government - has also given opportunity to Dokota Simonds, an ex-participant of the program, who like Glenda had identified her passion for sport to her project officer Shaun Humphries.

Dokota has since come full circle from being a part of the program through her senior years of schooling to now securing a job with the NRL as a business support officer.

Dokota said she wouldn't have known the many opportunities that were available to her if it wasn't for the program.

"Through school all the teachers would talk about was university – I feel like they limited students to that, even though that wasn't the avenue some of us wanted to take," Simonds said.

"I know for sure that if I wasn't in the program than I would not be where I am today – the opportunity for my traineeship wouldn't have come up and I wouldn't have got my role at the NRL.

"So to have the support from the School to Work team was great in the way that it provide us with an endless list of opportunities, whether that be through further study or employment.

"Throughout this role I hope I can give back to the program what it gave to me.

"I want help other students achieve what they want to and let them know that there are so many different options available to them."