NYC player Mathew Faitotoa is the recipient of the Hunter TAFE Newcastle Knights Student of the Month Award for August.
It has been a significant month for Faitotoa who has not only been acknowledged for his hard work in the classroom, but made his debut with the NYC Knights in Round 26 against the Penrith Panthers.
It was a tough encounter against the minor premiers at Pepper Stadium on Saturday, but Faitotoa made his mark on the game when he scored in the 53rd minute.
The aspiring Knight was named in the centres of the starting side and hopes to harness momentum from his proud personal achievement when he launches into 2016 pre-season training.
The young Knight who hails from New Zealand arrived in Australia in 2014 and initially stayed in Ipswich (Queensland) before joining the Knights in November.
Since settling in Newcastle and training with the Under 20s Knights, he’s also enrolled in a Certificate IV in Community Services at Hunter TAFE.
“I wanted to go into the police force, but I can’t do that in Australia because I’m a New Zealand citizen,” Faitotoa explained.
Intent on building a career where he could help others, he began to explore other options.
“I thought of doing youth work, so I decided to study Community Services,” he said.
Managing a busy schedule presents challenges for Faitotoa, but the fact he has great passion for football as well as what he’s studying helps him get through.
“It’s good to be halfway (with my course), but now it’s full of assignments and projects,” he said.
“It’s pretty hard, but I’ve got used to it and like what I study at TAFE which makes it easy."
When asked how he’s found being a part of the Newcastle Knights NYC squad in 2015 season, Faitotoa is emphatic with his response.
“It’s been big,” he said with a grin.
“It’s been pretty hard but it’s given me confidence and experience.”
Mick Reid, the NYC Knights’ strength and conditioning coach, has been one of his biggest influences since arriving at the Club.
“He’s helped me a lot through my fitness and the skills he has taught me,” Faitotoa said.
“Through video, he has been teaching me a lot what to do on the field.”
Looking to the future, Faitotoa has big dreams and plans to invest hard work to one day reach his ambitions.
“Hopefully I’ll run my own youth service, that’s my big goal,” he said.
As far as his main goal on the football field, “To play NRL, it’s as easy as that,” Faitotoa concludes.