From basketball court to community

For many professional athletes, an injury can have a devastating impact on their sporting career. But for 27-year-old Illawarra Hawks' player Tyson Demos, it was the catalyst for discovering his passion for helping others and a pathway to building skills for his future career.

“I had an injury last season which meant I couldn’t play. While I was off the court I had the opportunity to spend more time getting involved in the Hawks’ Youth Program.

“As part of the program, I was visiting local high schools and speaking with students about important issues such as bullying and using sport as an avenue for social participation,” says Tyson.

“The more time I spent engaging with young people and seeing the positive impact I was making, I realised it was something I really enjoyed and my passion grew from there.

“With encouragement from my family and friends, I decided to get a community services qualification with TAFE Illawarra so I could not only learn more about the field, but to also set myself up for a future career after basketball.”

Tyson is now studying a Certificate IV in Community Services at TAFE Illawarra Wollongong and as an Aboriginal man, is taking a particular interest in the cultural aspect of his studies.

“My favourite topic in the course is the cultural studies component – understanding the role and importance of one’s culture in how they engage with their community.

“I’m also an advocate for encouraging young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to make informed decisions about their health.

“In the future, I’d like to run a youth program that’s specifically aimed at Aboriginal youth.”

Tyson says TAFE Illawarra has made balancing his busy basketball schedule with his studies easy.

“My teachers have been great. They’re really flexible when it comes to fitting my assessments around my schedule and always go the extra mile in accommodating me.

“I also really enjoy the learning experience at TAFE. You’re surrounded by people who want to be there and share the same interests.

“To be honest, I didn’t enjoy school – but with TAFE the learning style is completely different. There’s a lot of interaction and group work, which makes it more enjoyable.”