Marais co-facilitating new student leadership program

The Victorian Institute of Sport’s long-standing partnership with School Sport Victoria (SSV) has opened many doors for VIS athletes over the years. This year is no different and the important partnership has created an exciting opportunity for VIS hockey athlete Brad Marais.

In early 2022, SSV established a Student Leaders program involving a group of 26 students from Victorian schools from years 5-12. The purpose of this group is to provide feedback and advice to School Sport Victoria to guide the future of school sport in Victoria.

The student leaders will provide their thoughts on current SSV programs, including what they like and might change about the way sport is run in schools.

To facilitate these sessions, SSV reached out to the VIS to help identify an athlete who would be able to help lead the group discussions alongside Paralympic Swimmer and Australian sporting legend Ellie Cole.

VIS athlete Brad Marais stood out as well-suited to take up this role based on his experience as a young hockey coach where he has demonstrated strong communication skills while showing a curious and passionate manner.

The 22-year-old plays for Southern United Hockey Club and was selected last year in the Australian U21 Squad. He competed at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina where the Australian team finished fifth.

Marais has coached at Brighton Grammar School for the past three years and is currently studying a Bachelor of Business/Marketing at Monash University.

“I am really looking forward to working with Ellie Cole and School Sport Victoria to help develop their programs for the future,” Marais said.

VIS Performance Lifestyle Manager Leesa Gallard is delighted for the opportunity for a VIS athlete to hone their personal skills in a new program.

“Involvement in this program as a facilitator is a wonderful opportunity for a VIS athlete to engage with a key partner in SSV and school students in Victoria,” Gallard said and continued,

“These opportunities are a great way for VIS athletes to build their skills and experience base - with positive impacts on their sporting endeavours and enhancing their employability in the future.”

Marais is excited about the opportunity to give back to SSV.

“Having been fortunate enough to represent SSV at an U12 and U16 level, I value the opportunity to give back to the program that allowed me my first taste of state hockey,” Marais said.

“I have fond memories of representing SSV and would look forward to playing a role in further enhancing the future of school sport.”

Both Cole and Marais went through SSV’s system and understand the experiences students may have when playing sport in school.

“Sport plays such an important role in Australian and Victorian culture and to be able to have an impact on how sport will be conducted in schools in the future is really exciting,” Marais said.

The pair will work together to facilitate the sessions to ensure SSV gains an insight into how the organisation can look to conduct sporting events in the future. 

The Student Leadership program has already completed two sessions and Marais is looking forward to facilitating the remaining 7 sessions over the course of the year and to play a role in shaping school sport for Victorian students in the future.

The Victorian Institute of Sport and School Sport Victoria partnership

School Sport Victoria funds the VIS’ Be Fit. Be Well program, a school speaker program where VIS athletes visit schools and speak to students about their athletic journey. The program’s key message is the link between physical activity with good health and wellbeing. The program enables VIS athletes to visit Victorian Government primary and secondary schools throughout the state.

Each year the Be Fit. Be Well program facilitates over 200 VIS athlete presentations to schools and has provided invaluable experience for VIS athletes to hone their communication and presentation skills.

In 2021, an opportunity arose due to COVID impacts for VIS and SSV to deliver a new program for talented students participating in the SSV’s Team Vic program. The VIS delivered a high-performance education program tailored specifically to the needs of SSV’s Team Vic athletes. The program offered Team Vic participants an opportunity to learn valuable skills at an early age to assist them on their journey in sport and life.

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