Two of Australia's leading young surfers will be able to gain a university education while competing on the national circuit, after being awarded scholarships to study at Southern Cross University.
The surfers, Oliver Shaw, from Rockhampton, and Brendan Leckie, from Palm Beach, have been awarded the 2006 Competitive Surfer Scholarships to complete the Diploma of Sports Management (Surfing Studies) program at the Tweed Gold Coast campus.
Brendan, who completed his HSC at Palm Beach Currumbin High School last year, recently placed second in the Billabong Pro Teen Series final held at Wollongong. He has surfed in Hawaii, New Zealand and Indonesia as part of the filming for Billabong's surf movie Passion Pop, and last year placed second in the Globe Pro Junior Teams Challenge and won the Queensland State Secondary Surf titles.
Oliver is a talented longboard surfer, who was the first competitor from central Queensland to ever win a surfing title when he took out the under 18 division of the Classic Malibu Pro on the Sunshine Coast in 2004. Last year he placed 24th overall on the Australian longboard circuit.
Mr Jak Carroll, co-ordinator of the Diploma program, said the scholarships were designed to give elite, young surfers the ability to combine their sport with study.
"The program has been developed in conjunction with Surfing Australia and aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills required in the surf industry," Mr Carroll said.
"As with all professional sports, it's vital that elite athletes are given opportunities to develop long-term career paths. We want to see these surfers succeed in the national and world arena, but also have a career to fall back on."
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Australasia tour manager Glenn Best said Oliver and Brendan had both achieved consistent results in ASP events.
"The surfing industry, including the competitive arena of the sport, will in future benefit greatly from the education available with the Surfing Studies course and we wish the candidates every success in their career path," Mr Best said.
Mr Carroll said a 2006 School Leaver Scholarship had also been awarded to Emma Church, from Mullumbimby. The scholarship is open to students attending a high school from Evans Head north to the Gold Coast, and is awarded on academic achievement.