Wade Dekker is about to combine his dream of being a teacher while keeping alive his ambition to return to the A-League.
Dekker played five games and scored one goal for Melbourne City, but left the A-League three years ago after suffering a severe ankle injury against Adelaide United in the 2015/16 season.
The striker was out of the game for 11 months before joining NPLVIC side Green Gully in 2017 where he became the top goal scorer that season. He then joined Oakleigh Cannons FC the following year and is now into his second season with the club after claiming the golden boot in 2018.
But the 24-year-old has been juggling his football career with an education degree – and he is now into his final year with the aim of becoming a secondary school teacher.
He admitted that while he's always aspired to become a teacher since he was a teenager, he still has dreams of returning to Australian football’s top flight after the inclusion of Western United FC.
“Now with the new club in the A-League, the dream is definitely alive,” Dekker told FTBL.
“I’d love to give it another crack, I feel I didn’t give it my best shot when I was there as it was a big learning experience for me. After that, if I have another chance, I feel I’ll be a different and more experienced player.
“I’ll do my teaching degree, but if something was to pop up with the new team or any A-League team for that matter, that would come first and I’d want to give that my best shot.
“In the end, if you get the opportunity to play professionally, it’s only really until your mid 30s and I’d have the rest of my life to be a teacher.
"If I get a chance, then I’ll take it with both hands and give it my best shot.”
A spell of work experience as a teacher during university made Dekker convinced him it was the right career move.
“I’ve always had this drive and passion to want to make a difference and have a positive impact on people’s lives,” he said.
“When I hear and see stories of people and students that were raised by a single parent or have grown up in broken families, I want to be a positive influence for the better – and that can be more than just school, but be there for them in life.
“When I was at school, I always took on leadership roles which was good. Even before I was in the Melbourne City youth team, I started my teaching course and I just deferred for a while.
“There’s definitely a few teachers I think back to in school that motivate me to be a good teacher, my dad and cousins are teachers. Hearing some of their stories makes me excited to teach.
“I hear the stories of the impact they have on students and I want to be able to be there for these kids.
“It might only be one conversation in six years, but you never know the impact it could have on their life. There were teachers I was always able to chat to and it made me really enjoy my schooling experience."