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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