Kelly Benson has an eye on the future and his head in the game after a school mentoring program led to a place in the North Sydney Bears' NSW Cup squad.
The Crestwood High School year 12 graduate, 19, was mentored by rugby union player David Harvey in 2012.
The opportunity was organised by non-profit organisation AusSIP, which partners schools with industry to give students skills for employment under the federally-funded Partnership Brokers program.
But the program's future is uncertain.
AusSIP provides about 8000 mentoring and employment skills opportunities to students in The Hills and Parramatta each year, but it was told categorically it would not receive any funding in today's federal budget.
Mr Benson spoke to 120 school and industry leaders at an event organised by AusSIP to discuss the employment futures of young people in western Sydney on Tuesday.
He said he doubted he'd have the opportunities he has now without the mentoring program.
"They only selected about 20 kids who were just your average kids, so I was so fortunate to get picked," he said.
''It brought me to the point where I was made school captain, and it helped me to come out of my shell and be more involved in the life of the school.
"Both of my mentors them gave me advice, tips and help.
"I really wanted to hit professional NRL, so [Harvey] gave me his diet program which is very similar to what I have to stick with, and his gym program.
"I'm training six nights a week and making sure I have my eight meals a day, and just being really disciplined."
■ 350 employers are the basis of AusSIP’s partnership network in health, construction, finance, information technology, retail, hospitality, tourism, legal services, event management, business services, entertainment and education.
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