In complementing the young local talent in their pathways and junior representative programs, the Sharks recruit players from interstate, regional areas or from overseas.
Being thrust into city life in Sydney and the Sutherland Shire can be a daunting proposition for some, with the change in surrounds and lifestyle often a challenge as they look to chase their NRL dreams.
However, to make the transition smoother, the Sharks use the generosity of local Homestay Families to assist in the process by hosting the young players in their homes.
So able to concentrate their efforts on their training and playing commitments, these families support and provide a stable family environment for the players concerned, with Ronaldo Mulitalo, Will Kennedy and Braydon Trindall a few examples from the current NRL squad to have benefitted from living with local area Homestay families when first brought into the Sharks system.
The Sharks Welfare and Education team of Jeff Robson and Morgan Te Oka coordinate and assist in placing the young players with suitable Homestay families.
However, with talented youngsters coming into the club each year, the Sharks are always looking for more Homestay families interested in being a part of the program.
Robson a former Sharks, Manly, Eels and Warriors halfback, has been involved with the Sharks Welfare program for the past few seasons and knows how important the right family environment can be to a out of town youngster.
“These young players benefit from a having the support a Homestay Family can provide in addition to what we might be able to offer from a club perspective, in helping them to be the best they can both on and off the field,” Robson said.
The Homestay family would support the player while they are attending school, pursuing an apprenticeship/traineeship or working fulltime, in addition to fulfilling their training and playing commitments with the Sharks.
As for Te Oka, new to the Sharks in 2022, someone with academic qualifications which include a Batchelor of Education (secondary), as well as certificates in Elite Athlete Wellbeing, Training and Assessment and in Fitness, she has arrived at the Cronulla club with extensive experience in assisting young athletes, both male and female.
Along with Robson, Te Oka will assist the Homestay family to set up and provide suitable living arrangements for the young recruits.
“Between Jeff and myself, we will also be there to provide support to the Homestay families as much as we look after the needs of the young players,” she added.
Typically, the players are aged between 16 and 19 and on most occasions would live with the Homestay Family for between one to two years, depending on the individual circumstances.
Families are compensated for food and expenses.
Anyone who can to assist the Club or knows someone that might be interested in hosting a young Shark and being involved in the Homestay program, please contact Robson ([email protected]), Te Oka ([email protected]) or Sharks Talent Id and Pathways manager Glenn Brailey ([email protected]) for further details and more information.