Sport is a challenge – but so is a sporting life. Tomorrow’s champions need support today to manage the complex and often competing demands of sport, work, study, health and life.


The Waikato Academy for Young Achievers

The Waikato Academy for Young Achievers [WAYA] was founded in 1995 to support the development and overall well-being of young athletes who aspire to achieve sporting excellence.

The programme is coordinated by WILSS and supported by The University of Waikato and the Waikato region’s current and retired elite sports people.

To deliver the modules, WILSS uses New Zealand’s current and former elite sports people and experts within the sport and recreation industry.

What and when

Waikato Academy for Young Achievers

  • Applications close: end of April each year
  • Duration: Three years, with seven 1.5-hour sessions per year
  • Commences: Second term of the school year

Entry criteria

To be eligible for the programme, an athlete must:

  1. be nominated by their sport or school
  2. be competing at a regional level
  3. be aged between 15-18 years at the commencement of the three-year process.

If an athlete is achieving representation at a regional level before or after this age they will be considered for entry.

Core components

This programme focuses on helping athletes to look after themselves holistically. 

Topics include:

  • dreaming of the international arena
  • creating an image
  • communication on and off the field
  • listening to your body

The course content in Year Two and Three continues to develop the fundamental modules offered in Year One, with more role model involvement from leading elite sport’s people.

Programme of study

The Academy runs in Hamilton for seven weeks, each Friday night, from 5.30pm to 7.00pm. It is also offered in Hauraki/Thames districts with sessions delivered over two full days (usually on a Sunday).

Future pathways

The Academy programme provides students with tools to excel in their chosen sport and to achieve balance between their sporting, career and personal life. Successful students may also be able to progress on to the Pathway to Podium, the New Zealand High Performance and the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme.

Contact us today to find out more about this programme!

Kath Dobson - Sport Programme Coordinator

Ph: 021-149-2027  Email:

One of the best things about the Academy is hanging out with other sports people and getting a whole lot more support to keep striving and keep pushing boundaries..."

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