Originally from Dubbo, Braye moved away from his home to embark on his Rugby League career to play for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Under the guidance of Steve Pike, Wellbeing and Education Manager at Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Rugby League Club, Braye was encouraged to sign up to the More Jobs More Care program. Steve said that “Braye has initiative and will jump at any opportunity given to him. I believe he’s going to be a fantastic role model for other players, young people and participants working in this industry.”
No stranger to working with people with disabilities, Braye had previously worked at physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinics, helping clients who had injuries and disabilities. “This program helped formalise my experience and gave me new skills,” he said. Braye added that the program opened his eyes to new career possibilities aside from being an athlete.
“I’ve gone through all the classes and embraced the program. I really enjoyed myself and I’m committed to helping people with disabilities”. Braye is currently working for What Ability, a support service utilising professional and semi-professional athletes, which was founded by retired NRL player, Steve Dresler. For Braye, one of the benefits of support work is being able to go out and about with clients. “It was good to have a mentor guiding me in this sector, and it feels great when I take them (clients) out and care for them.”
As the Bulldogs Wellbeing and Education Manager, Steve Pike wanted his athletes to understand that Rugby League was not the only career path they could have. “Only a small percentage of rugby league players get to play NRL and even then, their career in the NRL is only for a short period so having a vocational background is seen as a priority for the club and the league.”
The club has been very proactive in encouraging their athletes to sign up for apprenticeships or programmes that leads them towards getting a tertiary education. “We know that a lot of our players like working in schools and with kids, especially those with disabilities.” Disability support, he added, is a growing and critical sector, which was the motivation behind the Bulldogs encouraging their athletes to sign up for the More Jobs More Care program.
He believes the program teaches athletes and young people, such as Braye, valuable and transferable skills. “The program leads to an employment opportunity, and it also gives them soft and hard skills that are important in a workplace.” Steve has also received positive feedback from Braye and other members of the team. “They enjoyed the program tremendously. They don’t have any apprehensions and they’ve jumped into it and embraced it.”
Steve added that having a dedicated mentor in the More Jobs More Care program made a big difference for participants. “You only had to have one point of contact across the program and having Pauline Tuamasanga as the mentor for all the athletes really made it easy for them”.
Pauline echoed the same sentiment as Steve about Braye’s character. “He was enthusiastic about starting his journey as a disability support worker and this was reflected in his commitment and tenacity to complete the course. He had a positive attitude and was attentive in learning the skills he needed to work in the disability sector.”
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