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We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing.

I was talking to someone the other day about studying as an international student in Australia.  We were swapping notes about our experiences and how similar, yet different they were.


He was bemoaning the fact that when he got to Melbourne all those years ago, he didn’t feel comfortable putting himself out there to join a rugby club.  He felt that as a Singaporean, he would be out of place, so despite being a promising player, he parked the joy he got out of playing and instead embarked on 3 years of not doing much.


My initial experience was similar.  Though I was by then a national player, I knew that playing for Singapore was a very different standard to playing in Australia.  When I first sniffed around a club, it was pretty intimidating – everyone was bigger and looked stronger and better than me. 

When I eventually got round to signing up, though, or rather when my friend signed me up, I very quickly found myself being welcomed by the club.  I hovered around the 3rd grade, not necessarily motivated to try too hard, but also wanting to play at a decent enough standard by Singapore standards.


My initial hesitation and fears turned out to be misplaced. Not only did I end up playing for the club for 7 years, I made some lifelong friends that I have kept even now, over 20 years later and despite the fact I live on the other side of the country.  The club provided me with exposure that I wouldn’t have otherwise got if I chose not to play.


For a start, the fact I was an international student meant people were always looking out for me.  In my first season I didn’t have a car but was never short of getting a lift from someone to get to and from games.  I was also getting tips on the best places to go to on a student budget as well as – importantly – jobs.


Being able to work while studying was a huge advantage and the club was a regular source of work for me, whether it was working in the kitchen post-Thursday night training or in my coach’s glass factory, or helping my teammate with his removalist business. 


The connections and friendships I made also helped me when I decided to make a permanent move to Australia, providing advice and connections around finding a job as well as references for my visa application.


The education I got from university was amazing and they were some of the best years of my life, but it wouldn’t have been complete if I didn’t keep playing. 


And those fears that everyone was bigger and better than me?  Well, truth is, a lot of them were!  But the beauty of the club scene anywhere in Australia – and regardless of sport – is you will find the right grade where you are comfortable.  I was happy playing 3rds while backing up the 2nds, while I had friends who were more than happy to just kick around with the 4th grade team.  Ultimately, the experience just adds another layer to your overseas education and is one I absolutely recommend.


If you’re thinking of studying in Australia and want to keep enjoying the sport you love, then get in touch with The NoBull Group and we will make sure we get you enrolled into the right program as well as connecting you to the right sports club for you so you get to play without the anxiety of trying to find a club.  Get in touch to find out how we can help!

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