Life after football has been in focus for a group of Vodafone Warriors players who have been committed to fitting study commitments around their NRL careers during the club’s Covid-19 enforced stay in Australia this year.
Since gathering on January 3 to prepare for their 2021 campaign, the Vodafone Warriors have had bases in Tamworth and Terrigal as well as two separate camps on the Gold Coast following the NRL’s relocation of the competition to Queensland last month.
And through it all several players have either continued or started degrees or courses to not only further their education for post-football careers but equally to provide an interest outside football as the Vodafone Warriors have negotiated the Covid-affected landscape. In the course of the year, staff and players have been in and out of varying stages of lockdown, isolation or quarantine.
“Studying has been a real help in giving some of the boys an interest outside football and helping to give them another focus, especially at times when the NRL’s Covid protocols have limited what they can do,” said Vodafone Warriors player/wellbeing and education manager Ben Henry.
With the players being based away from their homes for the last two seasons, we’ve found more of them have been keen to take on studiesBen Henry Vodafone Warriors player/wellbeing and education manager
“With the players being based away from their homes for the last two seasons, we’ve found more of them have been keen to take on studies because they’ve had more free time on their hands.”
Among them are back rowers Euan Aitken and Josh Curran.
Aitken indulged in tertiary studies during his six seasons with St George Illawarra and this year he has been doing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in business while Curran has started a Certificate in Business.
Having something else to focus on outside the NRL like studying is good for youEuan Aitken Vodafone Warriors player and student
Their studies gave them a welcome diversion when they were forced into two weeks in isolation in their apartments in Terrigal in late June after being passengers on a Virgin Australia flight with a cabin crew member who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
“Having something else to focus on outside the NRL like studying is good for you. I enjoy it and it really helps to take my mind off things,” said Aitken.
“More than that it gives me a purpose in helping to prepare me for life after football.”
Aitken is doing his degree through Victoria’s Deakin University while Curran’s course is provided by the Elite Athlete Business School.
Playmaker Sean O’Sullivan has continued a Bachelor of Business: Sports Management through Swinburne University, which he began in 2017.
Seven players have also completed a Mental Health First Aid course this year.
VODAFONE WARRIORS | CLASS OF 2021
Euan Aitken | MBA in Business, Deakin University
Josh Curran | Certificate in Business, Elite Athlete Business School
Addin Fonua-Blake | Youth Work Certificate IV, One Wellbeing
Jackson Frei | Certificate in Business, Elite Athlete Business School
Eliesa Katoa | Youth Work Certificate IV, One Wellbeing
Marcelo Montoya | Certificate in Business, Elite Athlete Business School
Jack Murchie | Elite Athlete Wellbeing Management Programme (Certificate IV), NRL
Ben Murdoch-Masila | Youth Work Certificate IV, One Wellbeing
Sean O’Sullivan | Bachelor of Business: Sports Management, Swinburne University
Mental Health First Aid Certificate (2021)