Harry Marsh cuts an imposing figure. A 6’2” giant with a fairly serious expression. He seems a little uncomfortable being interviewed, but when he gets going he lights up and can talk about his experiences playing AFL for the Sydney Swans and his experiences as part of CSU’s elite athlete program at length.
Harry, 23, began playing AFL at the age of seven and by 13, knew that he wanted to play professionally. He worked his way through the local and regional representative teams, eventually playing for the under 18s Western Australian state team. In 2012 he was picked in the NAB AFL draft and began his professional football career with Sydney in 2013. He had, “realised [his] dream.”
“Our careers only last till we’re about 30. You need to have security for life after sport,” he said.
Harry is currently studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science through CSU and is part of the Elite Athletes Program. Although he isn’t entirely sure what life after sport holds for him, he knows that he wants to work with the AFL in some capacity, preferably in coaching or development. His degree is a way to guarantee that after his playing career ends, there will be paths open to pursue.
Harry sees other players with the club struggle with the pressures of studying at Sydney universities while still maintaining their sporting career, especially when their schedules change drastically week to week.
“With myself and CSU, it’s just so easy. I can study when I want and when I have the time,” says Harry.
He goes on to express the flexibility in the CSU program, in relation to assessments and assignments as essential in allowing him to continue his studies while still performing on the field.
“Working online through CSU has been awesome, and the flexibility with assignments and assessments has been great, they’re really understanding and that makes my life easier and more enjoyable,” he said.
Harry encourages young people pursuing a sports career to look at the CSU program as a means of still obtaining a degree while working. He sees the pressure that can be placed on young athletes, especially when they have just been drafted and are being offered their “dream job”. Although he says, “Sydney are great in the fact that they really push you to study,” he knows that the ignorance of youth means young sports-people can be short-sighted and not see the big picture.
“Having a program that’s easier to get into and work with makes it [university] a lot more attractive for the young player,” says Harry.
“You’ve just essentially realised your dream, but it could change in an instant, an injury or anything.”
Apart from his sports career and his studies, Harry enjoys a game of golf when he can “squeeze it in.” He says he’s lucky that they have 8-12 weeks for an off-season, it allows him to travel and relax, “because once you get stuck into pre-season you don’t get a whole lot of personal time.” So far he’s spent five years in the football season cycle.
“I still don’t know what I want to do, but it’s just that I’m doing something and committing to something that isn’t my sport.”