Inside Sport was recently given an in-depth guided tour of the Panthers’ home base. We discovered the facility is much more than a factory for producing quality footballers.
Located immediately behind the gargantuan Panthers leagues club, the Academy represents a $21 million investment by the club’s board of directors into the game of rugby league in a district frequently referred to as the biggest junior rugby league nursery in the world.
Here, Penrith’s high-performance and sports science staff have the best facilities at their disposal, as does the club’s education and welfare team. The academy’s locker room laps the size and quality of the one over the road at Panthers Stadium, while the site’s lecture theatre is second to none anywhere in the country.
One of the main figures behind the academy’s instalment was Phil “Gus” Gould, who captained the club during its early years, coached it to a premiership in 1991 and since 2011 has filled the role as footy club General Manager. One of Gould’s most important appointments early on was that of Matt Cameron, Penrith’s current High Performance Manager.
Cameron, who very generously took Inside Sport on an hour-long tour of the Academy recently, had worked at the Parramatta Eels for 15 seasons in a coaching capacity, the last seven as an NRL assistant under Brian Smith, Jason Taylor, Michael Hagan, Daniel Anderson and Stephen Kearney.
Cameron arrived at Penrith in 2012. “At that point in time the club clearly had a lot of things that were working for them; great numbers in terms of their 8,500-strong junior league, great staff, but there was a bit of a misalignment in terms of their junior programs and how they aligned to the senior ranks,” Cameron tells Inside Sport.
FOR THE FULL STORY, CHECK OUT THE EIGHT-PAGE FEATURE ARTICLE ON THE ACADEMY IN THE CURRENT EDITION OF INSIDE SPORT MAGAZINE.
(Header image courtesy Penrith Panthers)