Professional sportspeople have a narrow window of opportunity to excel in their chosen field while they’re at peak fitness. But when that window closes, they need to have a plan for a second career. And that’s exactly what Queensland Reds player Caleb Timu is counting on.
Caleb grew up watching rugby every weekend and knew without doubt that he wanted to play sport professionally. But he also always wanted to study, to ensure his career after sport was as successful as his time on the field.
Now, the Griffith University student is enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce, and is determined to get a quality education and set an example for his family.
“I was the first one to graduate from high school out of my parents and siblings,” he explains. “I’ve always seen education as an important pathway for me in the future as I knew that rugby wouldn’t last forever.”
Caleb made the leap to professional rugby as part of the Broncos Under-20s squad, also making the impressive leap to the NRL pre-seasons in the top squad. After two years with the Brisbane team, a representative from the Reds contacted his agent in April 2016.
“Rugby union was my first sport when I was eight,” Caleb says. “So I think it’s always been a part of my family. I grew up watching rugby every weekend, going between league and union. I made rep teams and was lucky enough to be with the Broncos for two and a bit years before coming to the Reds, so that was pretty much my journey.”
But the football player always knew he wanted to get a qualification, and when the time came to enrol, both Griffith University and a commerce degree came calling.
“I’ve always been interested in money and been passionate about it and being able to manage it and help other people,” the Auckland-born student says. “Just seeing the struggle within my own family and relatives, how they haven’t always been financially smart, helped me choose what I wanted to do. I could see how much of an impact a financial advisor would actually make to them.”
And there was never any doubt for Caleb what university he would choose to study at. “My mum went to Griffith,” he says. “I was able to see how much they supported her through her degree and how much of a great university it was. And so from pretty much then on, with her leading the way, me and the rest of my siblings – two of my sisters are studying as well, and uncles and aunties, all studying – it was pretty much a family university for us! My mum paved the way with her study for all of us.
Studying while carving out your way in the world of professional sport can be a tricky balancing act. But that’s where Griffith University’s Sports College comes into play.
The College is dedicated to helping elite athletes in managing their educations commitments with their gruelling sports schedules, and it’s been a saving grace for Caleb.
“They’ve helped me heaps,” he says. “There have been some times I’ve needed to travel for sport and they’ve helped me get extensions and I’ve been injured so they have helped with my studies as well,” he says. “Studying and sports and family are things I’m very passionate about and this university helps me to put my energy into all those things. I guess I am just grateful to be in this situation.”
Caleb says he hopes one day to be able to combine his two careers once his on-field days are over. “You see a lot of young sports stars, they earn a lot of money but they have no idea what to do with it, and just being able to be educated financially is an important part of life, so I could see myself on that pathway of combining my love of sport and my passion for finance,” he explains.
But for now, he’s thrilled to be where he wants to be in his sporting life, while planning ahead for his future at Griffith.
“I just love the place,” the rugby plays says of the University. “I’ve been around it since I was young, I know a fair few people here and it’s just a great environment. Friendly, helpful, the campuses aren’t too overwhelming and you get to know the places really well. The support has been fantastic. Everything about the uni just fits with where I want to be.”