Elite athletes embarrassing themselves in the media could become a thing of the past with the launch of a new Griffith University Sports College program.

The Griffith Sports College has been working with many of Brisbane’s major sporting teams to develop an innovative program to develop the culture of elite athletes.

The pilot program, which is supported by the Department of Local Government, Planning and Sports and Recreation, is aimed at ‘rookie’ athletes who are starting out their professional careers.

Griffith Sports College Manager Michael Jeh said elite athletes are leading increasingly pampered lives and are missing out on many of the essential ‘life skills’ that other young people learn.

“Each day, it seems a fresh story breaks, concerning another elite athlete transgression and another controversy,” Mr Jeh said.

“This program, After the full-time siren, is aimed at tackling that problem at the source – providing athletes with basic skills and perspectives on life to increase their potential as role models.”

The 16-week program focuses on areas deemed ‘high risk’ in athletes’ lifestyles. Topics covered include the responsibilities of being a public role model, balancing life on and off the field, cooking, nutrition, defensive driving and service to the community.

The new program includes professional presenters and high-profile athletes, including former State of Origin rugby league player, Ben Ikin. Ben was a main driver in the program’s development and has drawn on his experiences as an elite athlete and former player welfare officer with the Broncos.

Griffith students will also be involved, designing and running media skills sessions as well as making a documentary on the program for their assessment.

“Involving students adds to the unique program where social barriers between sport and education are dissolved. The program removes athletes from their comfort zone, exposing them to new learning environments, influences and ideas with athletes from other sports,” Mr Jeh said.

Thirty ‘rookie’ athletes aged 17 – 21, from the Broncos, Bulls, Reds, Queensland Academy of Sport and Sunnybank Rugby will participate in the program.

Sports Minister Andrew Fraser, who will launch the program, said the Beattie Government was committed to promoting fair play message in sport and helping sporting organisations to deal with inappropriate behaviour.

“Griffith’s new program not only encourages the sporting industry to promote the physical and social benefits of sport and active recreation in Queensland communities, it also helps them to recognise the impact their behaviour has on our children and young people,” Mr Fraser said.

The program will be launched on Wednesday, March 28 in the Ship Inn on Griffith’s South Bank Campus at 6pm. Ben Ikin will be hosting the launch.