4 Reasons to Engage Fans Through Athlete Storytelling

by Sep 14, 2021Elite Sport, Most Popular, News

As South East Melbourne Phoenix (SEMP) begun their journey of fusing education, technology and athlete storytelling to engage fans, Melbourne was experiencing a long run of ‘donut days’ and the freedoms that come with it. 

These freedoms included students and teachers collaborating in their natural habitat, the days of remote learning a distant memory.

But as this pandemic has taught us time and again, it is not to be underestimated. From term 2 onwards, yo-yo lockdowns in Victoria sent students back to learn from home and teachers grappling with the question – ‘how can we do this again?

1. The Right Solution at the Right Time

SEMP’s goal with the release of the Take Flight courses for Year Eight and Nine students was to help learners recognise what high performance behaviours are and how they can establish and build these into their day to day lives. 

Students are encouraged to explore topics such as reflective practice, leadership, teamwork, growth mindset and emotional management (amongst others) and develop the skills to be effective in these areas.

The timing of the release of these courses was not lost on Brent Hobba, PE teacher and Basketball Academy coach at Berwick College. With students being tested with the constant lockdowns and no capacity to see friends or play sport, the learning objectives of the Take Flight programs came at the perfect time.

“To have professional basketballers telling their stories of working through the challenges of life and building high performance behaviours has been a welcome, timely addition to our curriculum. To hear how to develop growth mindset or resilience or leadership in this time has been so important and the students have really embraced the opportunity”, Hobba said.

2. Impact in Lockdown

We asked some of the students to share their thoughts on the learning experience for this article, here’s what a few of them had to say.

“I really enjoyed the Phoenix program, it was relatable and refreshing, especially in these tough times for Victoria. Hearing from the Phoenix players themselves talk about their journeys, made it 100% more achievable and worth working hard for.”


“The program gave me hope that my future can still be great. Seeing the players talk about growth mindset and goal setting for the future is really helping me push through lockdown.”


“With this massive lockdown it has been very hard, but the Phoenix program has helped motivate me to continue with my basketball and try hard to achieve new goals” 


3. Athlete Storytelling Powering Student Learning

For SEMP Head of Operations, Rohan Short, these courses were always driven by a focus on athlete storytelling and how these stories can engage and resonate with the audience.

“Throughout my professional life in education and sport, I have always been fascinated by the impact of athlete storytelling. Our players have reached the pinnacle of their sport by fostering high performance behaviours on a daily basis and we wanted to share these experiences through an online medium.”

“Our athletes have also suffered setbacks, disappointments and emotional challenges on and off the court. It was these stories of them as basketballers, and as people, that we wanted to share with this audience. We truly believe there is great cut through with athlete storytelling and the messages our athletes share through our courses are just what young people need guidance on right now.”

4. Scaling Athlete Storytelling

These messages had to be delivered through a medium that would not only do justice to the athletes’ stories but would engage students and support teachers in their practice. 

Enter Playbk, a SportsTech company fusing education and fan engagement – at scale. 

“We knew the guys at Playbk had been doing some great things in educational technology and felt the fusion of EdTech and SportsTech was exactly the investment we wanted to make as an emerging club in the National Basketball League (NBL)”

Rohan Short, Operations Manager at SE Melbourne Phoenix

“As a start-up franchise we want to innovate and do things differently to build and grow our fan base in the heartland of basketball. Our Flight Path portal has allowed us to connect with roughly 1000 teachers and students within six months of launching and we see a future where these numbers are significantly increased.”

The Flight Path portal has the capability to deliver education through on demand courses across various sectors, with SEMP looking at supporting community coaches as the next identified target audience.

The new kid on the NBL block is shaking things up when it comes to fan engagement and community impact. Expect to hear more about SEMP and the Flight Path portal in the months ahead.

Access the Flight Path suite of course for free. Contact [email protected] or visit SEM Phoenix Flight Path for more information. 


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