Education and sport a winning mix with new scholarships

Australian athletes are being encouraged to balance education and career pathways with their sporting ambitions as the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) today launches a $200,000 education scholarships program.


The AIS is partnering with the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation to expand the AIS Education Scholarships program, which began as a $100,000 pilot last year and supported 40 athletes with education scholarships. Mr Wylie said the way Australian athletes pursued their sporting goals was truly admirable but added it should not have to be a choice between high performance sport and education.

Two Commonwealth Bank Matildas, Elise Kellond-Knight and Clare Polkinghorne, fully acknowledge the importance and value of educational support for athletes.

“I used the AIS education grant to pay-off some of the fees for my Masters of Business Administration at Griffith University," said Kellond-Knight. "I undertook three courses in 2020 which cost a total of $13,500, so it was extremely helpful to receive this grant from the AIS.

"I have found it so challenging to find financial support to assist in undertaking an MBA - in fact, this reason had prevented me from enrolling until I suffered a serious long-term injury in July 2020. Without funding, I decided to enrol into University to give myself a goal away from sport and to protect my mental health. If it weren’t for my injury - it is likely I would still be looking for adequate financial support to undertake the MBA.

"Since enrolment, I have worked with Griffith Sports College to change policies to allow my MBA to be supported through the scholarship system. The outcome of this is basically what I had been searching for at the end of2019 when I decided I wanted to undertake further study.

"Through my search for funding, I was also able to link with Torrens University, who will now offer full scholarships to Australian footballers. This will hopefully prevent any other professional footballers having to go through the ordeal I experienced, when searching for adequate study assistance.”

Polkinghorne added: “Obviously, there will come a time when I retire from football and I need to be prepared for that time and this gives me many options post-football to continue with another career.

"I do think that having something other than football to focus on, actually helps me as a footballer. Study provides a different outlet for me, something else to focus on and recharges the batteries so I’m not constantly thinking about football. I’ve always enjoyed learning and I do think it provides a good balance to my life."

Grants of up to $5,000 are available per athlete. Applications for round one of the program are available on the AIS website and open today, Monday 27 September, and close Friday, 15 October. Round two will be March 2022. It is open to any categorised athlete who is intending to enrol, currently enrolled, or part way through a course/unit of study in period 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 that is part of the EAEN.