From Hospitality to AFL: Jacinta Whitling’s Transformative Journey with Richmond Institute

Jacinta Whitling, now a Massage Therapist and Sports Trainer for the Gold Coast Suns, graduated from the Richmond Institute in 2021 after completing a Diploma in Sport (SIS50319) – Online Delivery, a course offered by Swinburne in collaboration with the Richmond Football Club.

Before transitioning to the sports industry, Jacinta spent ten years in hospitality prior to taking time off to start her family. Following this time off, she became a remedial massage therapist at a clinic. Jacinta discovered Richmond Institute through an email from the Richmond Football club, where she was a member at the time. She saw this course as a valuable opportunity to deepen her understanding of the AFL as a business, enhancing her career prospects by combining the diploma with her existing remedial massage therapy skills.

As an AFL enthusiast, Jacinta found the prospect of working in sports exciting. The dynamic and ever-changing environment of the sports industry resonated with her, contrasting with the more routine nature of clinical practice. This diploma enabled Jacinta to balance clinical work with her role at the Gold Coast Suns, providing a diverse and engaging professional life.

The support and inspiration that the Richmond Institute staff provide plays a very significant role in Jacinta’s journey. Jacinta continues to connect with the teachers today, particularly Grant, whose history of success gave her the confidence to pursue various opportunities. She found the course to be very valuable in offering insights into the business side of sports, preparing her to transition into sports from being a fan to a professional in the industry.

In her current role as a Massage Therapist and Trainer at the Gold Coast Suns, Jacinta’s daily experiences are exciting and varied. During the week, she works in the club’s treatment room, scheduling half-hour sessions to treat players’ injuries and soreness after seeing a physiotherapist. On the weekend Jacinta travels with the team, providing massages the night before the game, transporting property to the field on the day, and serving her role as a trainer during the game. This role combines her sports trainer and massage therapist skills, directly supporting the players.

Jacinta found the course at Richmond Institute to be extremely supportive and flexible, which was treasured by a single mother of two. The weekly online sessions allowed her to balance her studies with parenting, and completing coursework when her children were at school. This flexibility was life-changing, transforming her career from being just a remedial massage therapist to becoming an essential part of a professional sports team.

The course also introduced Jacinta to valuable networking tools like LinkedIn. Special guest speakers highlighted its importance, helping her build connections within the sports industry. These connections ultimately led to her role at the Gold Coast Suns, facilitated by the opportunity to connect with staff at the club through this platform.

Completing the online diploma was a unique opportunity that set Jacinta apart in her job applications. The course being one of a kind as an AFL-linked program, allowed her to stand out from other candidates, providing a direct pathway into her current role.

Jacinta will be “forever grateful” that she found the course and for the opportunities that the course provided. It allowed her to pursue a dream in sports that she never thought possible, significantly enriching her professional and personal life and being an experience that “changed my entire life”.

This article was written by Kate McQueeney, a current Diploma of Sport/Diploma of Leadership and Management (SIS50321/BSB50420) student studying in collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology and the Richmond Football Club.

(Jacinta Whitling pictured on the left)

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