While the cancellation of the Queensland Rugby League statewide competitions has meant some players have been gone from their “home away from home” for the past few months; a handful of Souths Logan players have been back to Davies Park to help build up their club – literally.
When the crowds return to the home ground of the Magpies to support their teams on the field or attend the markets that are hosted at the venue; they will be able to see the work of some young up-and-coming construction trainees.
The 18-week traineeship is part of a Queensland Government funded program designed to deliver practical hands-on experience to trainees who are employed for a 38-hour week for 18 weeks, paid under the national training award.
Hastings Deering Colts player and Intrust Super Cup squad member Creedence Toia was one of the players who signed up earlier this year to take part in the construction traineeship, which was being offered in partnership by the club and Challenge Employment and Training.
“At the moment, we are doing a construction course at Davies Park and we are learning heaps about the trade and I am enjoying it, especially [doing it] with people from Souths,” Toia said.
“We are building a roof and a deck next to the club house – I think it’s being made initially for the markets that are held here on Saturdays and they might make it a cafe; next to the soccer field.
“I am learning everything from scratch at the moment, this is my first time doing construction.”
As well as obtaining practical skills, the program integrates NRL workshops which include a focus on fitness and wellbeing, job readiness, career development and personal development.
Former NRL, Intrust Super Cup and Samoa representative player Sam Tagataese is the wellbeing and education officer at the Magpies and has been delivering this key aspect of the traineeship to the participants.
“Challenge Employment and Training is a training organisation and what they do is [work with] adolescent kids, kids who are struggling at school, they might have dropped out early; so they take them in and [there is government funding] to do courses.
“Craig Grauf (Souths Logan Magpies commercial operations manager) had a contact in there and the project we have here is a construction project where the kids take part in building whatever needed to be built around a rugby league club in the community.
“They partner with them and try to get that project done, but also develop the kids; so they train the kids up, they employ them, they give the life skills as well.
“The kids are getting paid and it’s a three-month employment plus training [program] and from there, they are getting paid and they finish with a Cert I as well in construction.
“We partnered with them; they saw an opportunity that would be good everyone.
“We have some of our players doing it and also kids from around the community in the Souths Logan area and around on the northside as well, so they come in and part of the program as well is that they use me as a mentor.
“Twice a month, I go in and run a few workshops with them, touching on a few points like resilience, relationships, finding out and working on their values, so a lot of the programs that I have been involved with in my career as a footballer.
“[These are] pretty much in line with what the NRL are doing [in the wellbeing space] and I was lucky enough that I was able to use some of the resources and courses in this program.
“It’s a really good program. It’s awesome; we have got our women’s players involved as well; there were 15 participants that enrolled; there was a selection criteria that they had to go through and eligibility as well that they had to meet for them to come in and it’s a good starting point for them to get into work, find out what it is like.
“They start at 7am and finish at 3pm and we also partnered with Statewide Building and Construction who are one of our generous sponsors, so they have got a building manager, Jye Boyd, there that runs it and looks after them, so he is pretty much a teacher.
“He’s the older brother of Tanah Boyd at Gold Coast Titans, who used to play with the Magpies.
“Challenge have been running these programs for a while and they said with the running of this one, there has been a lot more engagement and having an ex-player running some of those programs and workshops has been helping the cause as well.”
For BHP Premiership player Lyllian Mikaio, the program has been a good way for her to develop her skills off the field while she waits for football to return.
“Sam is our wellbeing person for the women’s team and he brought it up with the team and me and a few of the girls thought we would give it a go; so we got information off Sam and we went to all the induction days,” Mikaio said.
“For this round, it was only me, my sister (Tyesha) and Diaz (Seumanutafa) ... we had a three-week break during COVID when it got pretty serious, and then after that, we got the okay to carry on and keep going with work.
“It’s been pretty much full-time work, doing five days a week.
“[But] we started back training two weeks ago; am loving being back [for football].”