Playing the field

Ari Easton’s face lights up as he steps onto the soccer field in his hometown of Maleny. It’s been at least six months since he was last in Australia, with the 19-year-old typically only returning home twice a year to visit his family. Yet despite a hectic schedule that often sees him training twice a day, Ari remains drawn to the field even in his off-season.

29 Oct 2017

It’s not every day that people are given the opportunity to follow their dreams. It’s even rarer that they have enough courage to seize those opportunities when they present themselves. But when Ari was offered the chance to get closer to achieving his life-long ambition of scoring a goal for Australia in the FIFA World Cup, it was a risk the then 14-year-old and his family were willing to take.

Playing for the Australian Technical Football Academy at a tournament in Malaysia, Ari caught the eye of a scout, who requested he do a trial at a club in the Spanish city of Valladolid. After impressing the club, he was asked to stay on for a year until he turned 16, when he could be officially signed in accordance with FIFA’s international rules. However just prior to coming of age, Spain changed the age limit to 18, setting his plans back.

At just 16, Ari travelled alone to Germany in an attempt to get signed there, but was later told it was the wrong time in the season. He didn’t let it keep him off the field though and shortly after, he was asked to trial for CF Cracks—a college football academy in Valencia, Spain—where he has recently completed his youth season and signed with the men’s first team.

Spain’s youth system is fantastic. They develop world class players and I couldn’t think of a better place to have my youth career. If you look at the major clubs and leagues around the world, they are full of Spanish players, so they are obviously doing something right,” said Ari.

“This next season will be my biggest season yet—I need to make sure I perform this season so that I can get signed to a bigger club and start getting paid to do what I love. That’s the next goal for me.”

Despite being on track to become a soccer superstar, Ari realised early on that he needed a backup plan in case his hard work didn’t pay off, and approached TAFE Queensland to discuss options that would complement his career path and allow him to receive his Year 12 Certificate while he trained overseas. In Year 11, he completed a Certificate II in Sport and he has since gone on to complete a Certificate III and IV in Fitness online.

“I want to equip myself going forward so if I am in different situations in the future, I don’t need somebody to tell me how to do things. I can make my own training programs and tailor them toward injury prevention, or if I am injured, I can base my training program around it using the knowledge I’ve gained from TAFE,” said Ari.

Ari’s course was put together by TAFE Queensland’s sport teaching team, who worked closely with him and his family to ensure he reached his goals through a combination of video recordings, online assessments, emails, and practical assessments that were timed to align with his visits home.

“I really loved the convenience of TAFE Queensland and being able to do it online. Being overseas makes it hard to study but TAFE Queensland made it really easy for me,” said Ari.

“My teacher Clinton Robertson was a massive help too. He would come down when I was back in Australia and he would literally go out of his way to help me complete my practical work. I really appreciate everything he did to help me succeed.”

Ari has now completed his studies with TAFE Queensland and remains in Valencia doing everything he can to earn a position with a major club. But with genuine talent, extensive knowledge and fierce determination in his arsenal, we’re sure we’ll see this rising star kicking career goals in the very near future.


For more information about sports and fitness courses available at TAFE Queensland visit our website or call 1300 308 233.

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