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IOC honour for Sydney school

27 October 2008

Westfields Sports High School in Sydney was formally awarded the 2008 International Olympic Committee (IOC) Sport and Youth Trophy today.

The Sport and Youth Trophy is aimed at rewarding organisations that have promoted or developed sporting or educational programs linked to Olympism aimed at young people.

“It is a huge honour but mostly what it is, is recognition of the effort and dedication that have been put into producing high quality athletes,” Westfields Principal, Roger Davis said.

Each year this prestigious trophy is provided to National Olympic Committees world-wide by the IOC so that they can bestow the worthy recipient. The theme of the award changes annually.

AOC President John Coates presented the Sport and Youth Trophy to Westfields Sports High at a ceremony at the school in front of past and present students and dignitaries.

“Westfields has long been regarded as a great nursery for young sportsmen and women in Australia and the IOC has formally recognised this,” Mr Coates said.

“A quick glance at some of the names of the ex-Westfields students shows what an impact the School has had on the Australian Sporting landscape.”

There have been around 230 current or ex-students from Westfields Sports High that have represented Australia in their chosen sport, which includes Socceroo Harry Kewell and Australian cricket vice-captain Michael Clarke.

In 2008, six members of the Australian Olympic Committee were former Westfield students. They included Dani Samuels (Athletics); Fabrice Lapierre (Athletics); Mark Bridge (Football); David Carney (Football); Trent McClenahan (Football) and Kate Bates (Cycling).

Westfields achievements as a sports school are respected by professional athletes. “

For Westfields to be able to produce so many athletes at the pinnacle of their sport is a very highly regarded result,” former student and Sydney Olympian (Athletics – Hammer Throw), Karyne Di Marco said.

Westfields was the first sports high school in Australia. It was established in 1991 when founding principal, Phillip Tucker, saw the need for a strong relationship between sport and education in Australia. He felt that there were no schools in the country that catered for gifted sports students, which resulted in talented youth dropping out of sport.

“I suppose our long term vision is to keep on providing those opportunities for talented sports students to achieve to their potential and at the same time, gain a quality education,” Principal Davis said.

“Not only do we have talented sports students here, our academic results are fantastic too. Last year one of our Year 12 students received a university admission indicator of 99.25. We also had 43 Distinguished Achiever Award recipients, 92 students go on to university and two of our Year 12 students received the 2007 Premier’s All Rounders Award, which means they received band six results in five of more of their subjects.”

Mr Coates described the IOC recognition of Westfields Sports High School as a great reflection of its sporting and academic program.

“I started [at Westfields] in Year 7 and went right through [to Year 12],” two-time Olympian and Australian football representative, Heather Garriock said.

“The Westfields Sports High football program is definitely the base to my success in my football career.”

The philosophy of the school is to encourage and allow students to pursue their dreams, whether it be competing on the world stage or becoming successful in their chosen career.

“I was originally in the basketball program in Year 7 at Westfields but they [Westfields] allowed me to pursue both basketball and athletics whilst studying,” said Beijing 2008 Olympian, Dani Samuels.

Westfields Sports High has also been recognised as a best practice model in Europe and Asia and the Australian Government has classed it as a “project of national significance.”

“I know that the model we have is a fantastic model,” Principal Davis said. “It is one that has been recognised as one of international significance and certainly other States would be mad not to copy this model because it has been so successful. I know that the model we have is a fantastic model.”

Westfields offers students with a comprehensive junior and senior curriculum with pathways to the Australian Institute of Sport, universities and major sports organisations.

Sport training is included in daily schedules of students as a subject and the school provides tutorials on the weekends to for students to study with supervision and guidance from teachers.

When sport students are away competing they are given work by their teacher and the school is currently developing lessons for students to access via the internet.

“There needs to be a fine balance for a sports person to be at their peak” Garriock, who is currently coaching football at Westfields, said. “It is really important that there is an understanding when it comes to the academic side of things.”


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