Students score with West Coast Fever placements

By the time you’re reading this, third-year marketing student Rebel Boylan will have spent more than 100 hours on social media and will know more about netball than she ever thought possible. And all in the name of learning.

The former Mercedes College pupil, who says her unusual name is courtesy of a Burmese-born mother wanting her daughter to be ‘daring’, is one of a number of UWA students involved in placements with Fever following a unique partnership deal between the University and the club.

Rebel has swapped her normal routine of lecture theatres, libraries, books and computers for a desk at the State Netball Centre and digital marketing role and is the envy of many of her friends.

“Can you believe it,” she laughs as she leads the way upstairs to the busy office hub in the $26 million State Netball Centre that is home to Perth’s national netball team West Coast Fever and the sport itself in WA.

I love uni but it’s so good to get out of the classroom and into real life and to be applying some of the things that I’m learning. I’ve spent the last few days analysing how Fever’s social media pages compare against the Facebook and Instagram accounts of other top Australian netball teams.

The 21-year-old says having to ‘get dressed up’ and front up to work two days a week has been an eye opener after nearly three years at university but is ‘totally worth it’, with the chance to experience sports management at an elite level an unexpected bonus.

“The social media and marketing side of what I’m doing is great but I’m also a keen sports fan so just seeing what it takes to keep a sport like netball and a team like the Fever running so successfully in this state has been amazing,” she says.

Rebel Boylan at the State Netball Centre

For Lillian Tran assisting Netball WA’s human resources manager Fiona Kelly two days a week means she’s been able to put into practice skills she learnt working in HR in her native Vietnam and more recently as part of her UWA Business School studies.

“It’s very hands on as Fiona provides operational and strategic HR advice and support across the whole organisation,” says Lillian, who moved to Australia in January with her husband and two children and is studying post-graduate human resources and employee relations at UWA.

Netball WA is four years in to a five-year strategic plan and so there’s lots of projects and policies being finalised. The thing I am most proud of so far is researching and writing the recruitment policy for indigenous employees.
Lillian Tran says she is enjoying the 'hands on' work

The three-year partnership between the University and Fever announced in January is an unprecedented step in Western Australian women’s sport, and is one of the first between an elite female sporting team and a tertiary institution.

UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor Community and Engagement Professor Kent Anderson says the student work placement arrangement is one of the key facets of the collaboration, offering students valuable opportunities to be involved in one of WA’s top sporting clubs.

As a university we’re always looking for opportunities to help our students get real world experience and to develop work-related knowledge and skills that will equip them for their careers.
Professor Kent Anderson

“The fact we’ve been able to place students into such a variety of roles, with everything from marketing to sports science to accounting at Fever is of enormous benefit to not only the people involved but also the club.”

Athletic performance coach at West Coast Fever, Liam Warwick, a UWA sports science graduate, agrees, describing the opportunity for students to do practical work placements as a ‘huge advantage’.

“To see firsthand how things operate and to learn how to get on with people in a work setting are things you can’t really learn in undergraduate lectures,” says the 26-year-old, pictured at the tope of the page putting Verity Charles through her paces.

“When I first started my degree I knew I wanted to work in sport but I had no idea really what was available. I was lucky enough to be mentored by another UWA grad working at the West Coast Eagles and I began building up my experience and my network of contacts that way."

I’m in a role that I love, working with a high performing team of elite athletes who are constantly pushing themselves to achieve higher and harder goals.”

Netball WA CEO Simon Taylor says the partnership between UWA and Fever represents ‘the type of truly integrated relationship we pride ourselves on’.

“The relationship is certainly reciprocal, as we gain access to industry leading knowledge from UWA’s students, while they gain exposure in the sporting industry,” Mr Taylor says.

“To see this level of integration in the first year of the partnership is exciting, and we look forward to continuing to grow the relationship over the coming years."

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