VIDEO: Eric Watson interview
Thursday 26 July 2012 12:59 PM
Senior Vodafone Warriors Nathan Friend and Feleti Mateo are literally in a new headspace after tonight becoming the club’s latest players to graduate in a programme designed to prepare them for their transition into life after football.
Hooker Friend, a 147-game NRL veteran, and back rower Mateo (133 games) join team-mates Micheal Luck, Jerome Ropati and Jacob Lillyman who became the first-ever graduates of the NRL-supported ‘Extend the Dream’ programme introduced last year.
The Vodafone Warriors were the first club to adopt the course designed by newheadspace founder Jhanna Culver to challenge NRL players to confront retirement.
Friend and Mateo couldn’t say enough about the programme’s value for them personally and how it had crystallised their thinking – their headspace – as they came to terms with their post-football reality.
While Friend, a qualified bricklayer, said he began the course with some clear thoughts about his direction, Mateo said he went into it not knowing what he might do without football. Mateo said completing the programme had given him confidence about his future and he believed that had also helped his football.
Culver was among those attending tonight’s graduation function along with Vodafone Warriors owner Eric Watson, who presented the players with their certificates, Vodafone Warriors chairman Bill Wavish, Vodafone Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah and the NRL’s senior education and welfare manager Paul Heptonstall.
Also there were the new graduates’ partners (and Friend’s two sons), Vodafone Warriors head coach Brian McClennan and first graders Elijah Taylor and Sione Lousi as well as numerous other staff and media.
Culver said the ‘Extend the Dream’ programme was “genuinely a revolutionary way to support NRL players to have successful lives after sport.”
She said she deeply appreciated the Vodafone Warriors’ support after last year’s pilot.
“Being the progressive and heartfelt club that you are, you have ensured that this programme was available to your next round of senior boys, never hesitating for them to focus on things off the field,” she said.
Vodafone Warriors education and welfare manager Jerry Seuseu said the programme had once again succeeded by offering Friend and Mateo the chance of making a smooth transition out of the game when their playing days are over.
While Mateo is still only 27 and is looking forward to several more seasons as player, he was moved to take the opportunity to explore his ‘headspace’ now rather than later in his career.
Culver said the secret was to begin the programme while players were still active, not when they had finished playing.
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