• Skilling South Australia

Kicking goals on and off the park

West Adelaide players Dustin Head and Kaine Stevens at work for their company Steady Homes Picture: Mike Burton/The Advertiser

Courtesy of The Advertiser.

Footy fans will get the chance to both cheer on their local team and kick their own career goals thanks to a new partner-ship between the State Government and the SANFL.

The Skilled Careers: Your Passion campaign aims to capitalise on the camaraderie of the terraces to raise awareness of the many opportunities a skilled career can offer. “The SANFL is more than just the peak body for football in South Australia: it’s a trusted voice, with the ability to reach people from diverse backgrounds, of all ages, and across regional South Australia,” Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni said at the announcement of the 12-month Skilling South Australia initiative in May. “Through this partnership we want to provide football players, followers, young people and their parents and mentors with information about the thousands of jobs in our fast-growing industries possible through apprenticeships and traineeships.”

With 51,000 players, more than 250 clubs and thousands of supporters, the SANFL is anchored firmly at the heart of communities across the state, with loyal fans turning up for match day, training and more. “The partnership will create a strong and wide-reaching connection with young men and women right across the state,” SANFL chief executive officer Jake Parkinson says.

For the players themselves, an apprenticeship or traineeship provides a solid foundation for life outside the football ground. West Adelaide midfielder Kaine Stevens and defender Dustin Head both started their working life as carpentry apprentices and now run a successful construction company, Steady Homes.

“I started as an apprentice at the age of 16,” Head says. “I moved from Tintinara to Adelaide and started my apprenticeship and playing footy with West Adelaide. I qualified when I was 20. I love what I’m doing and have been doing it for 10 years now, so I have no regrets at all.”

New South Wales-born Stevens followed a similar career pathway, balancing work as a carpentry apprentice while playing with Greater Western Sydney, NEAFL club Queanbeyan and now West Adelaide, which he joined in 2014. “You see people who don’t do anything, and then they don’t make the AFL and they don’t have anything to show for it, no qualifications,” he says. “By doing an apprenticeship or traineeship, they have a solid career to fall back on.”

With talk in the clubroom from younger teammates often revolving around skilled employment, both Head and Stevens welcome the new initiative. “A lot of the young people do want trades, they’re just not sure how to go about it,” Head says. “When I first moved here, there wasn’t much help in the way of getting work. So if you want to play footy and the club can help you get a trade, I reckon that will be perfect.”

Head and Stevens started Steady Homes two years ago and haven’t looked back since. “There are endless opportunities and it’s pretty good having our own company,” Stevens says. “But even if you just work for someone, it’s a good opportunity to have a successful job.”

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