Ferris launches elite athlete programme

Stephen Ferris with SERC Sport students Jessica Copeland and Spencer Pinnion.
Stephen Ferris with SERC Sport students Jessica Copeland and Spencer Pinnion.

Former rugby star Stephen Ferris officially launched South Eastern Regional College’s (SERC) Elite Athlete Programme this week.

The programme has been designed to provide aspiring student-athletes with the support they need to achieve both academic and sporting excellence.

SERC has a proud tradition of supporting student-athletes in their sporting and academic pursuits, with four former SERC students competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The event was organised by SERC’s Deputy Head of School for Sport and Applied Science Colin Atkinson and was well attended with representatives from a wide range of sporting organisations including Sport NI, Disability Sport and National Governing Body representatives.

Colin said: “We know the commitment that is required to compete at a high level and we recognise that elite sporting activity can impact on a student-athlete’s ability to reach their full academic potential.

“In order to facilitate this we have asked Sport NI and each Sport’s National Governing Body to support and share their expertise in the design and delivery of the programme.

“This programme has been set up specifically to support elite and emerging athletes in achieving academic success by supporting them with flexible study assistance during their studies and sporting endeavours.”

The programme provides a comprehensive support package including physiological and training support, nutrition advice, recovery and injury prevention, strength and conditioning, specialist skills training, coach education and mentoring as well as access to state of the art equipment and expertise. Financial support is also available to enable greater access to training and competition.

Stephen Ferris, a former SERC student whose training commitments meant that he couldn’t complete his sporting qualification, is ambassador for the programme and explained: “SERC offer state of the art facilities for upcoming student-athletes.

“As a professional sportsman I am well aware that elite athletes require additional support to maintain sporting excellence while undertaking their studies. The elite athlete programme has been designed to support up-and-coming student-athletes as they strive to reach their athletic and academic potential.

“Unfortunately due to my own training commitments with Ulster Youth Rugby, I was unable to complete my course at SERC. Now having retired due to injury, I realise that it is vital that young people have something to fall back on if their professional sporting career doesn’t work out.”

To find out how SERC can help you ‘get the edge’ call 0345 600 7555, visit www.serc.ac.uk or find them on Facebook. For more information about the Elite Athlete Programme visit SERC Sport on Facebook.