Gold Coast Titans launch a partnership in NZ
Australian NRL club the Gold Coast Titans are wading into enemy territory after setting up a partnership with a Northland polytechnic that may provide NRL players in return.
The Titans will be "strategic partners" in a new sports performance centre to be established in Whangarei with tertiary institution Northtec and named after league stalwart Graham Lowe.
The centre will help future sporting stars from across the sporting spectrum to get a qualification at the same time as furthering their sporting skills.
The Titans have been involved in similar partnerships in Australia where they have provided help to disadvantaged youth in small communities.
Northtec looks set to use the expertise of the club to set up the centre with their non-profit charitable arm - Titans 4 Tomorrow Limited - set to oversee the partnership.
NorthTec chief executive Paul Binney said he was excited the Titans had come on board and hoped their input would see the new performance centre live up to a similar venue on the Gold Coast.
"The Gold Coast High Performance Centre of Excellence in Australia is world class and will be of huge benefit to our new sports centre and NorthTec in both the initial stages and beyond."
Michael Searle, founder and executive director of the Titans, said he was excited about the joint venture and had been impressed by potential future NRL stars from Northland "many of whom only need an opportunity".
"Hopefully some of these upcoming stars will play for the Titans in the future."
The Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre will be a Youth Guarantee education venture where disenchanted students will be offered a chance to re-engage in education and strengthen their skills within their preferred sport.
Students will also learn skills for budgeting, personal health and well being, teamwork, time management, and self-awareness, as well as developing the skills required to confidently progress to higher tertiary training or employment.
The course will be delivered in a sports performance context allowing students to also develop their athletic potential and to understand the requirements of professional sport.
Lowe said it had been a dream of his for a "long time to help those in the North who may not be in a position to enjoy what is available to those in other parts of New Zealand".
"Education is the key for our young people and sport is a language most young people understand."
Binney said the centre was a unique opportunity.
"The Graham Lowe Sports Performance Centre offers our region something unique - developing sporting skills while achieving a tertiary qualification."
The centre's directors hoped to establish partnerships with other professional sporting franchises.
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