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Balancing pro footy and study: Two AFL players on studying exercise and sport science

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, Exercise and Sport Science, Online study
Adelaide Crows Football on grass

Andrew Otten and Jason Porplyzia tell us how they balance playing professional AFL for the Adelaide Crows with studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science online with CDU.

Here’s what they had to say…

Why did you choose to study this degree?

Andrew: Playing professional sport is both physically and mentally challenging. After undergoing a knee reconstruction when I was only twenty years old, I realized that football won’t last forever and that life after football is just as important to prepare for, knowing that the AFL dream could end at any moment. I did well at high school and had always planned on beginning a university degree; this injury gave me ample spare time as I would be out for twelve months. I started studying at a local university in Adelaide, but our floating schedule made it hard to plan for tutorials and attend lectures, as our day off changed week to week. This led to my search for online study. I came across Charles Darwin University and with that, a change of degree to the Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science. Wanting to gain more knowledge of why we did certain training regimes, weights and recovery programs led to this change of degree, and I feel that I have an upper hand with the wealth of experience around me at the Adelaide Crows.

Jason: I have a passion in this area and having been involved in sport at a professional level I was always interested in learning how I could get the best out of myself and do things better. Now that my career has finished, completing the course will hopefully allow me to stay involved in the industry and help other athletes be the best they can be. I would love to work within the professional sporting industry in some capacity, ideally within the strength and conditioning.

Adelaide Crows Andy Otten and Jason Porplyzia

What do you think are the benefits of studying this degree with CDU?

Andrew: Studying at CDU has given me the flexibility I need to be able to succeed at university. We lead such a different lifestyle to most, with spare time changing from week to week. Being able to log in online from anywhere means I can read notes, watch lectures, tutorials and still communicate with my classmates and lecturers online at any time. Also our off season comes during Semester 2, so being able to still go overseas and travel, I can complete my subject tasks and assignments from anywhere in the world.

Jason: I chose CDU as it gave me the flexibility to study online and complete my studies around work commitments.

Being able to log in online from anywhere means I can read notes, watch lectures, tutorials and still communicate with my classmates and lecturers online at any time

What do you like most about studying?

Andrew: I really like the lecturers’ ability to communicate to its vastly online classes. Whether they schedule after hours lectures, or make sure they record them and post the lectures online immediately, you can tell they really care about providing these degrees to students of all ages.

Jason: The content is great and I find myself enjoying learning from all the topics I’ve completed. As well as this, my lecturers have been fantastic. Studying online can have its difficulties but some lecturers have made it so much easier making it feel like you are not missing the face-to-face interaction.

Jason, how do you motivate yourself in preparation for exam time and in preparation for a tough game?

I think I just love the challenge of competition and being tested. Studying for exams can be tough but I think I find motivation from knowing that if I apply myself and prepare as best as I can, once the exam is complete then that’s it! Mastering the topic is always important to me and as is setting goals to keep me focused. There would also be similarities in preparing for a tough game, motivation came from wanting to be the best I could and perform as well as I could for the team. A tough game was always motivation enough to try and get the best out of myself. Training hard during the week, doing any extra training I felt I needed and looking after my body with my diet and recovery was the best preparation.

There would also be similarities in preparing for a tough game, motivation came from wanting to be the best I could and perform as well as I could for the team

Any last words you’d like to share with our readers?

Andrew: Having the flexibility to study, work and live is so beneficial. I need to complete 24 subjects to gain this degree, and am over half way, completing 15 subjects, all online through Charles Darwin. I aim to finish three to four subjects a year, depending on the difficulty of the subject, and if I want to do one over summer. I enjoy studying with CDU and I’ve actually been able to convince a few of my teammates to join me in studying with CDU!

Jason: If you are just beginning your studies, create a schedule and become very good at time management. Organising, staying on top of your study requirements and not letting things get to the stage of overwhelming you is important. Don’t procrastinate!


 You are able to study a Diploma, Associate Degree and Bachelor Degree of Exercise and Sport Science online or on campus. Learn more about how you can get involved in Exercise and Sport Science at CDU.

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