SHOOTING HIGH: Ipswich Jets CEO Richard Hughes, Ipswich Jets Sapphires netball player Lia Woolnough and USQ stakeholder engagement director Jo Sheppard are part of a valuable new partnership. Picture: Rob Williams
SHOOTING HIGH: Ipswich Jets CEO Richard Hughes, Ipswich Jets Sapphires netball player Lia Woolnough and USQ stakeholder engagement director Jo Sheppard are part of a valuable new partnership. Picture: Rob Williams

How Jets, USQ boost all-round performance

GIVEN Ipswich regional sporting teams like the Jets have high aspirations, it's an ideal fit to have support from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

A new partnership between USQ and the Jets rugby league and netball teams is building strong sporting and academic ties in the Ipswich, Springfield and Toowoomba areas.

USQ has come on board as a naming rights sponsor for the Jets Sapphire and Ruby series netballers, along with the Ipswich club's Colts rugby league team this season.

USQ Director Stakeholder Engagement Jo Sheppard said working with sporting teams like the Jets was a positive way for the campuses to further develop goals of both organisations.

"It really forms part of a broader engagement through sports strategy that we have at the university,'' Sheppard said.

"We are very focused on teams that get really involved with our local communities.

"We see sport as a wonderful vehicle because it does really spread throughout all aspects of the community.

"When we look at forming these relationships, it's very much about how we might be able to add value to our communities.

"When we talk to many of the sporting clubs, they have their own goals - building aspirations for their players which is very much aligned with the values here at USQ.''

Jets CEO Richard Hughes agreed about the benefits of having USQ sharing common community goals.

"One of the things that we're all about at the club here is giving our players opportunity outside of the sport that they play,'' Hughes said.

"Whether that be work or education, that's important for us.

"So this latest relationship is more than anything about sharing resources and opening up doors for our players to access educational opportunities and also for those students at USQ to have some real life experience working for an organisation like ours.''

Hughes said the Jets were keen to develop such three-four year relationships.

He said the Jets were looking to set up a study bursary over three years at the club.

 

Ipswich Jets CEO Richard Hughes. Picture: Rob Williams
Ipswich Jets CEO Richard Hughes. Picture: Rob Williams

 

The Jets teams involved in last year's Netball Queensland Sapphire and Ruby competitions had terrific seasons.

Both made finals in their inaugural year, with the Rubies reaching the grand final.

Trials have been completed as the teams prepare for a scheduled competition start in mid-June.

Accomplished Queensland mentor Tracey Jeanes-Fraser is back as head coach with an assistant to be appointed for her Sapphire team.

The ever-enthusiastic Camille Rieck also returns to guide the Ruby team after Ipswich's achievement in qualifying for the grand final.

Former captain Stevie Anderson will be Rieck's assistant.

All last year's players have been retained with former Queensland Firebird Tippah Dwan returning for the 2020 season.

Sheppard said USQ was also continuing its association with the Ipswich Hospital Foundation, backing the popular annual Park2Park fun run in the city.

"We're also going to encourage our other partners to get involved because we'd like to see the Ipswich Jets netballers and the league players actually compete in Park2Park,'' she said. "So a bit of community collaboration would be a great outcome.''

Sheppard said USQ was looking to build an ongoing relationship to the Brisbane Lions women's AFL team when the club begins playing at Springfield in the future.

"We're seeing that as another opportunity,'' she said.

"An approach to lifelong learning is important when you consider the development of a whole person, which I think is very much the focus of most sporting club these days.''