World-best training for elite student athletes

The Rome Centre gives two elite athletes the chance to study while training with a top team and coaching staff.

While soaking in the rich culture and history of the Italian capital, water polo players Ellodie Ruffin and Brooke McClean took on the rare opportunity to train with the SIS Roma Water Polo Club which has some of the best water polo players and coaches that Italy has to offer.

The two players are members of Australian Catholic University’s Elite Athlete and Performers Program, and they have been selected as the first participants of the EAPP International Program based at the ACU Rome Centre.

Ruffin, 21, captained the Brisbane Barracudas Women’s National League team in 2017 and is a member of the Australian Women’s Water Polo squad, the Aussie Stingers.  In her fourth year of a Bachelor of Physiotherapy at ACU’s Brisbane campus, she balances her studies and elite sporting commitments. Her international experience includes winning a gold medal as part of the Australian Uniroos team at the World University Games in 2015 in South Korea.

Following in Ruffin’s footsteps is 19-year-old Brooke McClean. The ACU Cronulla Sharks National League Player participated in the 2017 World University Games following on to play with fellow ACU water polo student athletes at the Australian University Games in September 2017. McClean is in her second year studying a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at ACU’s North Sydney Campus.

Ruffin and McLean were ideal candidates to be the first participants of ACU’s new EAPP International Program at its Rome Centre in Italy. They will study a unit of the Core Curriculum while undertaking intensive training with Italian National League Water Polo Club, SIS Roma, coached by the legendary Pierluigi Formiconi.

Ruffin’s road to Rome is via the Netherlands where she played a stint of water polo one of the national league teams. She describes her international experience as “More than exceptional”.

“This experience is so much more than I could have imagined. The ability to combine my study experience with the culture and my training has made the whole journey multifaceted and all the more incredible.

“The SIS Roma Club has been more than welcoming into their team and training environment. The high standard of skill and physicality is incredible and challenging to keep up with. The difference in playing style and communication also provides another exciting challenge to keep up during training.”

For McClean it has been an introduction to the international class of water polo played in Europe and said she was excited to add to her a personal and professional experience as she adapts to the different conditions.

“I am so excited, I am looking forward to meeting the Italian players and seeing the difference in how they play.

“I am very grateful for the international learning and training opportunity that the ACU EAPP has given me. The EAPP program is an amazing opportunity for athletes to see the world and do uni at the same time – it is something very special to be a part of”.

ACU Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Anne Cummins said the EAPP International Program was an important natural progression for the University’s elite athletes to pursue.

“Our student athletes have demonstrated incredible commitment to their studies and their sport. The program is one way that the University continues to support student athletes studying abroad and securing athletic and academic futures.” Professor Cummins said.

“It is another unique benefit to the EAPP program at ACU and I look forward to seeing it develop further”.

The EAPP provides academic support, flexibility and financial scholarships for talented student athletes and performers.  For further information on the EAPP and the opportunities for young athletes and performers, visit ACU elite athlete and performer program.


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