With a background in Strength & Conditioning and a recently-submitted thesis for her doctorate, Jade Haycraft is one of the RMIT WFA’s major signings in the role of Director of High Performance.
What is it about the Academy that attracted you?
It was the opportunity to build something new in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne in terms of a high-performance Academy with women’s football, with the thoughts of including other sports as well. It’s something that hasn’t been done through the resources available at RMIT University and it seemed like a great opportunity and a great program to give to the community.
How is this position distinguished from your previous career’s experience?
It’s different in that the University is the main drive behind it. Usually the Universities that are involved in sports science or other programs just support and might provide some resources but in this one, RMIT is the actual main driver to build this program for athletes moving forward.
You’ve previously had experience as the head of programs like this. What are the most important traits for someone in your position?
You need to have the right people around you and working with you and those people need to be as dedicated and enthusiastic to improve as you are. Also they’ve got to be personable as well and really get into that team environment. It’s about hoping that you can provide the coaches and athletes with what they need or educate them on things they might not know they need and then the coaches and athletes accepting what you’re saying to them.
What would it mean to you for your program to provide the interns and athletes with a chance to learn as much as they can about their career by the end of the year?
For me, it’s about taking that next step and to be able to build their own professional portfolio to say that this is what I’ve done, this is the program I’ve created but to walk away to a potential employer, this is what I’ve done, this is the success I’ve had, this is what I’ve learnt, so that makes me a great candidate for whatever future they’re seeking.
How could a community footballer most benefit from your program?
The professional experience and education in AFLW and the physical preparation in AFLW and for sports performance. That is based in evidence-based research and practice. In the community, where they don’t have access to these sorts of resources, there might be people there who tell them to do certain exercises just thinking that that’s what they do because it’s something they’ve seen someone on YouTube doing, but they don’t have the professional people there with the eyes to see the correct technique or provide individual programs that are specific for that athlete because one program doesn’t fit all. We’re looking at more specific training so this sort of program will offer that and have quite knowledgeable practitioners who can help with an array of programs from the physical fitness side of things all the way through to medical or rehabilitation recovery as well and also in football performance, so things like match play and tactics through to analytics that is highly specialised and wouldn’t be provided from a local community club.