Studying a Bachelor of Education at Griffith University is just one small step in a large life plan mapped out by one of AFL’s most exciting young talents.

All Australianfullbackand current Griffith Sports College studentHarris Andrews is setting himself up for life postfootball and believesthat becoming a teacheris agreatway to shape a prospective career in coaching.

Having previously studied a commerce degreeat another institution, Andrews decided it was time for a changeand enrolledin a Bachelor of Education at Griffith University.

The decision followed a breakout yearon the fieldin 2019 when the23-year-oldwas namedinthe All Australian side at fullback.

“I had thought about what I wanted to do post footy, and coaching is a majorinterestof mine,”hesaid.

“Teaching is a really good way to get into that and a lot of the philosophies in coaching and teaching are quite similar.”

Harris fires out a handball at Lions training in 2019 (Photo – courtesy Brisbane Lions)

Welfare staff at the Brisbane Lions areactivelyencouraging the players to do things away from football and to set themselves up for life afterthe final siren.

“Our welfare managers produce a really strong support base and really encourage us to go out and get educated,” Harris said.

The Brisbane Lionswelfarestaffofferedhimguidance in making his decisiontostudy education and Griffith’s program came highly recommended as one of the best.

“I looked at our coaching staff and the different skill sets and qualifications they had and they all came from teaching and education backgrounds.”

The Padua College alumnustook note of who in the coaching staff wereschool teacherswith senior coach Chris Fagan, NEAFL coach Mitch Hahn and developmentcoaches Paul Henriksen and Zane Littlejohn all qualifiededucators.

“Talking to those guys, they said it was really helpful in their transitionfrom playing football and wanting to go into coaching, and more importantly helping with their ability toinstructand relate to younger generations,” he said.

Teammates,Jarryd Lyons and Sam Skinner, are alongforthejourney withthe202-centimetreBrisbane Lions defender. The trioisstudying togetherandgaining constantsupportfromGriffith SportsCollege.

“Where I previously studied, the support just wasn’t there but atGriffith and through (Sports College Manager) NaomiMcCarthy, my footy-study balance is seamless.

“There has been a lot of flexibility around organising assessment and it’s been really helpful and something that we really appreciate.”

When he is not doing assessment or going online for lectures and tutorials, the Aspley junior is getting himself ready for the AFL season re-commencement after the coronavirus-induced suspension in late March.

“I’ve been training one-on-one with teammate Ryan Lester as per AFL guidelines but am looking forward to getting into bigger groups soon ahead of the possible resumption in June.

Lifting weights at home during COVID-19 isolation

“All we have been able to do are running sessions in the local park and some weights at home but because of online zoom meetings with coaches and teammates we still all feel closely connected,” he said.

The extended down time hasn’t hurt Harris’studyregimehaving had plenty of sparemomentsto hit the books and get acquainted with the courseafter beginning in trimester 3 2019.

“The club has put a lot of things in place to keep the guys active and university is an important part of that for me personally.”

Griffith Sports College has a growing number of Lions players on its books including Daniel Rich (GBS) and Stefan Martin (Law) while the Gold Coast Suns, the official research and education partner of the University, are also well represented with six men’s players part of the GSC.