The Manukau Institute of Technology’s (MIT) School of Sport in conjunction with the Australian Football League New Zealand (AFL NZ) has given students the opportunity to lead the Sport Science Testing Services in a professional sports environment.
Every year, talented young athletes from around the North Island are selected to test their skills in the AFL New Zealand High Performance program, through the AFL New Zealand Regional Combine programme. This year five MIT students were chosen to practice their work skills with AFL NZ athletes at the Regional Combine in Whangarei and Auckland.
The participants were tested in a range of athletic skills to measure different aspects of their performance. Some tests were conducted for specific AFL skills such as the drop punt and handball. Other tests, including the vertical leap, 20metre sprint and the beep test can be applied to a wide variety of sports.
Of the five MIT students chosen, four are currently studying the Certificate in Applied Sport and Recreation and one is on the Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science. They were required to independently monitor and run these tests, applying what they are currently learning in their certificate and degree qualification to a real world situation, where international recruiters from the Hawthorn Hawks were looking at the athletes.
After positive reviews from the AFL representatives, the students were then invited to submit their CV’s for the opportunity to do more development work with AFL NZ.
Project and Business Development Coordinator for MIT’s School of Sport Francisco Serrano says “This weekend was a good opportunity to show the students that there are jobs in what they are studying and they can look professional doing them.
“It allowed them to gain leadership and ownership over their skills and boosted their confidence in working within a professional environment,” he says.
“We had really positive feedback from AFL New Zealand and so we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with AFL NZ so we can cover more Regional Combines next year including testing stations in Whangarei and Rotorua.”
“When the students were asked to hand in their CV’s to be considered for development work in South Auckland, they were really excited and appreciative of having such a valuable opportunity for immediate jobs and professional experience.”
One student who participated in the event, 19-year-old Sosikeni Lomiga (Keni), says, “It was good to see a lot of great athletes come together under one roof.”
“It was really humbling to be a part of that and to be able to apply what I’m learning in my qualification in a real life experience,” he says.
“The experience of conducting the testings was really valuable because it gave us the opportunity to give professional advice to the athletes that helped them improve. I was in charge of running the vertical jump and all the athletes were leaping forward so I suggested that they stand underneath and jump straight up rather than forward. My advice allowed all the competitors to increase the height of their jump which was great.”
Keni wants to continue his studies after he completes the Certificate in Applied Sport and Recreation at MIT’s School of Sport in Otara.