Finding a Balance: Football & Study

The life of a professional of a footballer can be demanding and intense. Requiring a sole focus and dedication to realise the goals the individual has set. The mindset to only focus on football to achieve your ambition is considered the only way.

The life of a professional of a footballer can be demanding and intense. Requiring a sole focus and dedication to realise the goals the individual has set. The mindset to only focus on football to achieve your ambition is considered the only way.

Like anything in life everyone operates differently. Finding a balance between football and study is one way of achieving this. A professional athlete-s career compared to other professions is relatively short, hence where the sole focus comes in. But combining study with sport not only brings life balance but prepares the athlete for their career post-football.

In 2012, as part of Open Universities Australia's (OUA) continuing partnership with football in Australia, OUA has awarded Leaders off the Field Scholarships to the following players. Each scholarship winner will be awarded 2 units of study through OUA to be completed in 2012

James Brown, Gold Coast United Tameka Butt, Matildas/Brisbane Roar Simon Colosimo, Melbourne Heart Travis Dodd, Perth Glory Bruce Djite, Adelaide United Katie Gill, Matildas/Perth Glory Josh Kennedy, Socceroos Adriano Pellegrino, Central Coast Mariners Tando Velaphi, Melbourne Victory Sarah Walsh, Matildas/Sydney FC

Katie Gill epitomizes the modern professional athlete, playing sport at the highest level and undertaking a combined university degree at the same time. The current Matilda, with a club career that sees her spend time in the W-League and overseas in Sweden, chatted with me about combining football with study and how it helps her achieve balance in life.

CG: How do you combine football and education? KG: It can be difficult combining both, but it helps me achieve a balance in life. The same dedication and time I give to my football, I place the same emphasis on my study.

CG: How do you view the importance of education to your football career? KG: They compliment each other, they both become a habit. Applying the same time and dedication to both is key. It also allows me to have a break from football, vice-versa football allows me to have a pause from study.

CG: What are you studying? KG: I am currently completing a combined degree, a Bachelor of Psychology degree at Edith Cowan University with a year to go. I-m using the scholarship to undertake two B. Business units through OUA.

CG: How does OUA work? KG: OUA allows you to complete studies online, it has helped me immensely throughout my career. With constant travel commitments with the Westfield Matildas, playing professionally in Sweden and here with the W-League it has allowed me to continue my studies without having to put them on hold whilst continuing my career. Not only the ability to study anywhere at anytime, but the online support has been fantastic.

CG: How do you focus on football and study time wise? KG: I just get stuck into it, I focus and commit equal time to both. I put the best of my ability into both to achieve the goals I have set for myself.

CG: Through your studies, what direction do you see yourself headed post-football career? KG: I want to move into organisational psychology in a business field.

CG: With your recent knee injury, did studying help with the recovery process? KG: Most definitely, the mental and physical aspect of coming back from injury can be extremely difficult. Particularly the mental side, studying allowed me a release. It gave me something else to focus on, it took my mind off the injury and kept me motivated.

CG: Current Matilda, professional career domestically and abroad, how have you still been studying? KG: Yes, it hasn-t been difficult at all, with studying online through OUA. It suits the life of a footballer.

CG: Would you encourage more players to study? KG: It is something that is there for all players. The system is in place, everything is there through “My Football Career” and “OUA”. Not only does it help you achieve balance during your career, but prepares you for life post-football career.

CG: Thoughts on receiving a 2012 scholarship for OUA study this year? KG: I will be undertaking two units of Business through OUA, which will go towards completing my Psychology degree at Edith Cowan University. Studying online allows me to fit it in to my schedule.

CG: How was your recent role as Goodwill Ambassador for the Asian Football Confederation Against Hunger campaign? KG: It shows what a powerful tool football can be. It is a program run by the AFC and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to fight hunger in Asia. I visited a rural village in Hue, Vietnam and encouraged the residents to have hope and continue striving to improve their lives. Everyone knows football, it-s a way that everyone around the world connects.

Katie is a role model for all footballers, youngsters coming through the ranks or full-time professionals. Her ability to transfer her dedication and time between football and education shows what can be achieved. Her ability to combine both football and study to achieve balance not only helps her during her career, but prepares her for life after football.