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Viko Puliuvea has always wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people.

It’s what motivated him to enroll in a Certificate IV in Youth Work at Hunter TAFE.

The ability to balance his study while training and playing for the NYC Newcastle Knights has seen him awarded the first Hunter TAFE Newcastle Knights Student of the Month Award for 2016.

“Around year 10 or 11 I was looking to go into community services to work with kids and see them grow,” Puliuvea explained about his decision to pursue a career in youth work. 

Rugby league is his other passion and something he has excelled at since he was a young child.

“I started when I was eight with Wests Newcastle and played some Newcastle rep football,” he said.

“I ended up getting a chance to play SG Ball last year and that went well.

“I started training with NYC at the end of last year and got into the team this year.”

The sizable forward is embracing every opportunity to learn as part of the U20s squad.

“It has been great. Training has been hard but it’s a good experience and I’m learning new things everyday,” he said.

The fact Puliuvea loves what he’s doing makes it easier to juggle a busy workload in the classroom and on the football field.

“Organisation is the biggest thing, but if I just balance my work, footy and study it goes okay,” he said.

Alison Greenwood, the teacher of Puliuvea’s Certificate IV in Youth Work says his contribution in the class has been valuable and believes his involvement in football will help him interact and connect with young people.

Newcastle Knights and Hunter TAFE are two local organisations that have shared a partnership for two years.

“The Student of the Month Award is to recognise the opportunity the players have to be in the course and to be playing for the Newcastle Knights at the same time. It's about recognising their achievements on and off the field,” Hunter TAFE Client Relations Manager, Leanne Fitzroy told Knights TV.

“We have the Knights in a range of our courses from carpentry to plumbing, fitness and business management.”

At the end of the season, a Hunter TAFE Newcastle Knight Student of the Year award will be announced with past winners including Bradie Smith and Matt Hilder.