Tasmanian-born Ben Brown is one of the best goal-kickers in the AFL, but long before he was an elite athlete playing for North Melbourne, Ben grew up in the coastal city of Devonport as one of six boys in his family.
“There was no shortage of brothers to play with when I was growing up and needed someone to kick the footy around or play basketball with,” Ben said.
It’s an awesome place to live and a great place for kids to grow up. My country upbringing in Tasmania was really influential to who I am now. There’s definitely a pull back to that kind of living which is really close to my heart.
Ben moved down to Hobart after completing high school and studied Arts at the University of Tasmania in 2011.
“I dabbled in a whole lot of different subjects and I definitely have great memories from then. I did some political science and sociology subjects and the lecturers in those really stood out to me – it was clear they were enamoured with what they were teaching, and that kind of excitement was infectious as a student.
Being a smaller uni, everyone is really invested in the student culture, and there were always a lot of community events going on. That feeling of community is definitely strong at the University of Tasmania.
“One of the things I value most is equality of opportunity for everyone. The sociology part of my degree was probably something which first sparked my interest: looking at trends among groups of people in society.
I’d say the University of Tasmania definitely played a part – the Uni helped me see the world in a bit of a different light, which had an influence in its own way.
AFL players are required to have some other form of professional development or training in addition to their football commitments. For Ben, he credits his time at university for giving him lifelong skills that complement his sporting career.
“An elite athlete’s career is pretty short, usually ending during your 30s. That means you’ve still got up to 40 working years after that, so you need other skills that can be applied in your next profession.
I always put a lot of time into study. A lot of people in the industry use the term ‘out in the real world’, but I think sport and study don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You have to think on your feet and manage your time [in study], which are skills that really do translate to playing football, or any kind of job.
Ben and his wife Hester celebrated the arrival of their baby girl, Aila, in December last year. Ben hopes to set an example for his daughter and other school-age children about balancing life and study.
“Mum and Dad are both University of Tasmania graduates, so the values of going to uni were highly regarded in my family, and I’d want to give those opportunities to my child someday as well.
Having those skills you gain at uni, it’s not just helpful, it’s vital. Putting in that hard work as a younger person will just serve you so well through life.
The University of Tasmania offers an Elite Athlete Program to support elite athletes in achieving their education goals.
Image provided by AFL Media.