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Bianca builds sporting futures for her students

Bianca Whife has joined the Academy of Sport Teacher, bringing over a decade of AFL player development, coaching and training to her role.

Originally from the AFL stronghold of Western Australia, Bianca grew up immersed in the sport, growing her passion for coaching and working in player development.

"Having worked for the West Australian Football Commission as the Female Development Coordinator saw me run female talent programs and coach the state Under 16 Girls. It was great to help develop pathways into the AFLW for female players," explained Bianca.

"I've also worked with the AFL and players from the Sydney Swans, Dockers, and West Coast Eagles, as well as upcoming players, and I'm able to bring those experiences, knowledge and teaching background to the class."

Based on the Gold Coast, Bianca is now developing pathways for Academy of Sport students, teaching the Diploma of Sport/Diploma of Leadership and Management (SIS50321/BSB50420) in a partnership between TAFE Queensland and the Gold Coast College of Sport and Business.

Teaching at the People First Stadium and the Gold Coast Sport and Leisure Centre, students are embedded with the Gold Coast SUNS AFL Club, offering an immersive training environment inside the club's world-class facilities.

This industry connection is seen in the involvement of Gold Coast SUNS staff, players, industry experts, and coaches, enhancing the students' learning further.

"So far, we've had the human resources manager, stadium manager and executive partnerships manager present to the students, and it was amazing," explained Bianca.

"They emphasised the importance of networking, meeting as many people as possible and building contacts for their careers. We're lucky that the SUNS also run the stadium and are getting insights into how game days are set up, the different people working together, and the coordinating volunteers - the insights have all been great."

Students also learn the critical management and leadership skills needed to build a sports career and work in various teams.

"We start with emotional intelligence, learning about ourselves and how others work, which is important in modern workforces with various people. We also focus on critical thinking and thinking outside the square to solve problems and then into leadership."

"Students either want to be better coaches, or they might want to go into more office-based roles, and by touching on different leadership styles, they find their groove and how they best work with others."

Enhancing the students' learning is the hands-on delivery of classes, which helps them learn and retain the course content.

"We do a lot of role-playing, which is much better than having students sitting in a classroom and being given information. When they're doing it, it clicks for them and seeing those lightbulb moments is the best part of this course."

Not only are Bianca's students benefitting from the hands-on training, but being immersed in the Gold Coast SUNS state-of-the-art facilities is also helping them to achieve.

"We have access to the main stadium, and often, our classroom is one of the corporate boxes, looking out onto the ground and seeing the SUNS training. So, we can discuss what we just learnt and watch them essentially doing it."

"If we're not at the stadium, we're over at the Gold Coast SUNS offices, and just being in and around the staff and the players benefit the students – they feel embedded into the club's high-performance culture."

With the perfect combination of teachers, facilities, industry connections and course content, Bianca stresses that this course is the best way for anyone to equip themselves for a job in the sports industry.

"This course is perfect for someone wanting to enter the sports industry, and it doesn't necessarily have to be AFL. We have students interested in soccer and basketball, so if you want to get your foot in the door and grow those skill sets to find a job in sport, this is the place."

"A lot of the students are interested in the community coaching side and starting with grassroots clubs, and we're more than happy to work with different codes to help them find their niche," concluded Bianca.