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Suzanne Highley has dedicated 16 years of her life to helping Townsville’s homeless, championing Indigenous issues and tackling the scourge of methamphetamine addiction.

And now the Gold Training educator is helping the next generation of North Queensland footballers to learn coping strategies and develop as on and off-field leaders.

Seven North Queensland Cowboys Under 20 NYC Players are enrolled in Gold Training’s Certificate IV in Youth Work, which builds personal resilience and professional skills needed to support young people.

Gold Training is a specialist training company focused on achieving rewarding employment outcomes for Queenslanders through demand-driven and strategic training.

“They are wonderful young men, and are cognisant that as footballers they are looked up to and listened to – whether they like it or not,” Suzanne said.

“What they learn through the youth work qualification is broad, but the primary outcomes are the skills required to identify and manage stress, either their own or that of others, and the frameworks to build relationships and to play an active role in the community.

“It’s great to see so many of the young Cowboys passionate about doing something that addresses the growing incidence of mental health issues among their peer group.”

Suzanne said the relationship she has built with the players – she goes to all of their home games – and the quality and structure of the Gold Training syllabus was the secret to keeping a group of 17 to 20-year-olds engaged.

“We focus heavily on linking theory to practice, while the part-time nature of the course balances their study requirements with their football workload,” she said.

“The training goes both ways as well – they learn about complex issues facing young people today and how they can make a positive difference, and I learn a lot about football.”

A stand out student is Cowboys Under 20 NYC back rower Hiale Roycroft, who enrolled in the course to contribute to rugby league on and off the field.

“It was important for me to build a career that could be used within and outside of football, and the youth work qualification is perfect for that,” Hiale said.

“Suzanne is a great teacher and what I’ve learned through Gold Training is setting me up to be a better team player and a better role model for young people in the community.

“I’m building the skills and knowledge I need to give confident and good advice to my teammates, and to give back to a game that has given me so much.”

Hiale and his teammates will graduate in October 2016.

For more information on Gold Training courses visit:

This article also appears on the North Queensland Cowboys website.

Image: Scott Davis @ NRL Photos.



Six months in the uncompromising world of NRL has galvanised the resolve of Melbourne Storm Thunderbolts recruit, Matt Egan to contribute to the game off the fields as well as on.

Egan has enrolled in a Certificate IV in Youth Work with Mooloolaba RTO Gold Training to learn skills to support teammates and younger players.

“Professional footy is competitive, intense and sometimes stressful, physically and mentally,” he said.

“I want to be there for my teammates and other young players to ensure it doesn’t get too much for them – you don’t want to see their heads drop.”

Egan has been playing since he was eight and began to appreciate the critical role of mentoring from an early age, watching his father coach the Currumbin-Tugun Seahawks under-18s side.

“He didn’t just coach them at footy, but at life,” he said.

“If they were having problems at home, or at school, he’d give them advice.

“The difference it made to their attitude, their state of mind, their happiness and their game really made an impact on me.

“I myself have been fortunate to benefit from others, both in footy and life in general, including from one of my league heroes, Billy Moore.”

It’s a powerful legacy Egan is keen to carry on.

“Youth Work is something that has always interested me,” he said.

Media Clipping | Sunshine Coast Daily



One of the great things about rugby league is the support and opportunities it gives you.  And even though my professional footy career is really just starting, there have already been an amazing number of people who have selflessly given their time and energy to help me get where I am today.

I have been fortunate enough to be employed by a company that has committed to support me with work, mentoring and a traineeship to ensure that whatever happens with my footy, I’ve got skills I can fall back on.

Billy Moore and Jeff Vaughan have been mentors for me since day one here at Gold Training. The leadership they show, advice they give and generosity to me is something I will always be thankful for. It has really helped me both at work and on the footy field.

Billy Moore is a Youth Ambassador and part of the leadership program here at Gold. Billy always takes time out to chat to me about how I’m going – at work, with footy and life. One of the things he strongly believes is that you can never learn too much. In every part of life, always try to learn as much as possible.

So when Gold Training offered me a traineeship and the opportunity to complete a qualification in Youth Work, I jumped at it. Youth work is something that has always interested me. Working with young people and helping them make the most of their own opportunities will be so rewarding.  I hope to participate in some of the amazing programs the NRL offer in the community and give back to a game that has given me so much.

Through my own experience of being mentored by Billy and Jeff, I’m motivated to make a difference and be a positive influence for the next generation.

So thanks to Gold Training for all your support. I can’t wait to get started.

Matt Egan NYC debut.

HALF TIME WITH MATT: A taste of the big league

Last week was a big step towards achieving my football goals.

I had the honour of making my NYC debut for the Melbourne Storm Thunderbolts in New Zealand against the Warriors.

The week didn’t start out well for me though. Gastro sidelined me for most of the week and I couldn’t train until Thursday. So it was very unexpected that I got the call up Friday morning that I’d be travelling with the team to NZ.

To reach one of my goals and make the starting side so early in the season was very humbling. I was nervous immediately.

We started our journey early Saturday morning (4am) to travel to Auckland. We all travelled together on the bus from the Sunshine Coast to the airport. Once our flight landed in NZ, we had the chance to stretch our legs with a light run and then head to our hotel. Shout out to my roomy, Jacob Tonge, a fellow debutante for the game.

Due to the time difference we were all out of bed pretty early Sunday morning (4am again!).

The hotel put on a great spread of buffet breakfast and the 17 of us did a pretty good job of demolishing most of it. Apologies to the other hotel guests eating with us.

The coaching staff decided we needed to walk off some of the buffet so we headed out to see some of the sights in Auckland.

Once it was game time, we all headed out to the stadium and made our pre-game preparations.

Playing in such a big arena like Mt Smart Stadium made it all very real that I was about to play in my first NYC game. The size of the place and the TV cameras set a pretty big stage to play on.

Obviously the result of the game wasn’t what we were after. The Warriors took advantage of too many errors from us and ran away with the game. We started off really well but in the end it was our execution and completion rate that let us down.

So there’s still tonnes of improvement to be made and I can’t wait to get back to training hard and working on all the little things to make sure I’m in the running to get another call up.

My first NYC game was a truly humbling experience and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.


HALF-TIME WITH MATT: NRL – Best Moments of 2015

Unfortunately I am sick at the moment, on the upside though this gives me plenty of time to watch footy highlights!

This also gives me plenty of time to reflect.

Although it is important to move on from last years results as they no longer mean anything, it is also important to learn from past experiences: the good, and the bad. It might be remembering how you prepared for that game you felt really good in, or how you fell for that dummie and missed that tackle, or maybe even what it felt like to the lose that grand final.

Remembering and learning from past experiences will ensure that you continue to develop and improve as a player. Knowing what preparation works for you may mean you now feel good every game. Being able to spot a dummie may mean that next time you won’t miss that tackle. Remembering the pain of losing last year’s grand final might even be motivation to not let it happen again and to go that one step further.

So now let’s take a look at the best moments of the 2015 season and see what we learned!

Broncos fans may want to look away…..

Thanks you to JM3 Montages for the video.