Bendigo Pioneers' new name

At their first home game of the season, Bendigo’s NAB League under 18s football club will take to the field as the newly-named La Trobe University Bendigo Pioneers.

The naming rights agreement cements a strong partnership that the University has held with the Bendigo Pioneers for more than seven years.

During that time La Trobe has hosted the Club’s administrative, support and coaching staff, and facilitated opportunities for its own exercise science, physiotherapy and sports development and management students to become immersed in the Club.

Two recent graduates of La Trobe’s Bachelor of Exercise Science and Master of Exercise Physiology, Jack Lawrence and Sian Illot, are now employed by the Club in player performance, and strength and conditioning roles.

The duo run twice-weekly strength and conditioning sessions, and annual fitness testing, for both male and female Pioneers players at the campus’ high-tech exercise conditioning lab.

Head of Campus, Mr Rob Stephenson, said the long-standing partnership reflects La Trobe’s deep commitment to developing students’ employability and workplace readiness.

“Industry partnerships, like the one we have with the Bendigo Pioneers, have many benefits for our students,” he said.

Mr Stephenson said this is particularly apparent in programs like work placement, which many La Trobe students have undertaken with the Pioneers.

“Not only are students exposed to new professional networks and meaningful work, they often receive job offers straight after – or, in some cases, even prior to – graduation.”

Bendigo Pioneers Talent Manager, Mr Stephen Sharp, said the La Trobe partnership has been invaluable in improving player performance.

“Having students and new graduates, who are at the top of their field, helping support and improve the physical attributes of our players, has been of enormous benefit to the club,” he said.

Mr Sharp said players also benefit from the strong link with the University in terms of skills development and future employability.

“While performance on the field is important, we equally emphasise our players maintaining and excelling in their education, to give them greater career options.”

As well as the new naming-rights agreement, two new scholarships will be offered to La Trobe students who are current or past players with the Pioneers, or who work in a volunteer support role with the club.