Posted by RLPA
Career Development: Matt Ikuvalu
The Career Development Q&A is an RLPA content series that promotes career development opportunities for players and the importance of planning for life after footy.
Each article will feature an NRL player who has engaged in meaningful development opportunities away from the field, while also providing an insight for other players and the industry about their journey.
The content series also highlights academic achievements from within the playing group, many of which have utilised the support available through the NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education program.
Part 17 of the Career Development Q&A features Matt Ikuvalu from the Sydney Roosters.
I have completed a Certificate III Fitness and Certificate IIII Community & Recreation. I am currently completing Bachelor of Teaching with honours at the University of Newcastle.
Q2 Why did you choose this field?
I worked as a Teachers aid at North Sydney Demonstration School and I really enjoyed it. I felt like I had a lot influence on students and their behaviour.
I also want to be a role model for young Polynesian students who are trying to figure out their own paths.
Q3 Did you always have this career path in mind?
Noooooo. I was not the best student, so teaching wasn’t at the forefront of my mind.
If footy didn’t work out for me, I was probably just going to work with my father in a metal fabrication factory. Working in that factory for four years made me weigh up my future and what else I could pursue.
Q4 Have you utilised any support available to players through the NRL-RLPA Wellbeing and Education program?
The support I have received from the Roosters wellbeing and education program has been phenomenal. I couldn’t thank Narelle enough for the help and time she has given me.
Q5 What plans or goals do you have for post-retirement?
I would love to have some sort of involvement with the Roosters, but I plan to complete my teaching prac and internship to finally become a qualified teacher.
Q6 How important is it for players and the industry to prioritise career development opportunities?
It is very important for players to prioritise career development opportunities. For me, it takes my mind off footy, so It’s always good to have another focus in your home environment. Also, understanding there will be less financial stress and unknown when you retire.
Q7 How have the skills you have developed through playing NRL helped with your educational development?
I think playing NRL has made me more accountable for my study. It also developed my time management skills in order to finish assignments around training and playing.
Q8 How important is having the support of your coach and football staff when pursuing education options?
I think this is very important. I remember a couple of years ago, Robbo (Trent Robinson) gave me a couple days off training to organise and complete a group project with students from University that was due that week. Without those days off, I may have failed that course.
Q9 Was there a time you felt like giving up on your studies and if so, what helped you keep going?
I had friends in my cohort so that always made it easier for me to keep going. It also kept me motivated to do well as I didn’t want to fail subjects that they were in.