Six months in the uncompromising world of NRL has galvanised the resolve of Melbourne Storm Thunderbolts recruit Matt Egan to contribute to the game off the field as well as on.
Matt has enrolled in a Certificate 4 training course in Youth Work with Mooloolaba-based RTO Gold Training to learn skills needed to support team mates and younger players.
“Professional footy is competitive, intense and sometimes stressful, physically and mentally,” said Matt, who has been playing League since he was eight.
“I want to be there for my teammates and other young players to ensure it doesn’t get too much for them – you don’t want to see their heads drop.”
Matt began to appreciate the critical role of mentoring from an early age, watching his father coach the Currumbin-Tugun Seahawks under-18’s side.
“He didn’t just coach them at footy, but at life,” he said.
“If they were having problems at home, or at school, he’d give them advice. The difference it made to their attitude, their state-of-mind, their happiness and their game really made an impact on me.
“I myself have been fortunate to benefit from the wisdom of others, both in footy and life in general, including from one of my League heroes, Billy Moore.”
It’s a powerful legacy Matt is keen to carry forward.
“My experience of being mentored by Billy, Gold Training’s youth ambassador, has motivated me to make a difference and be a positive influence for the next generation,” he said.
“Youth work is something that has always interested me; helping kids, especially those with troubled backgrounds, to make the most of their own opportunities will be very rewarding.
“In footy, the pressure to train hard and make the run-on side every week can take its toll.
Matt isn’t concerned about the pressure study will add to his own packed life.
“Garry (Bannister, Matt’s Gold Training educator) is a great teacher and does for me what I hope to be able to do for others — he keeps my head in the game,” Matt said.
Garry praised Matt’s motivation and dedication to give back to his sport.
“I take my hat off to Matt for wanting to go into this line of work, because it can be quite challenging. He is really committed to this idea of helping others,” Garry said.
“His real strength is in his ability to communicate — he is able to build relationships with people at all levels, and that’s a fantastic thing for a young person to have.
“My job is to give him the very best chance of success. This means making he can fit study around his football commitments and providing as much one-on-one assistance as is required.”
Youth Work will be Matt’s second qualification in two years, having completed a Certificate 3 in Business Administration the previous year.
“I believe it’s important that I build a career that has applications inside and outside of football and the youth work qualification is perfect for that,” Matt said.
“Gold Training has committed to support me with work, mentoring and a traineeship to ensure that whatever happens with my footy, I’ve got skills I can fall back on.”