A lifelong love of basketball led Matua Tufuga to apply for Chisholm Sports Academy’s basketball program. He found the experience invaluable.

As a youngster, Matua Tufuga loved to dribble and shoot hoops.

Fast-forward the clock more than a decade, and that little boy still lives for basketball.

When Matua’s mum suggested he attend Chisholm Sports Academy’s basketball program, it seemed like an obvious move.

“I thought it would be a really good opportunity for me to become more independent and take a step out of my comfort zone,” says Matua. “It also meant I could do something I really wanted to do.”

The Chisholm Sports Academy helps aspiring athletes to pursue their athletic dreams while also completing their secondary school studies or while pursuing a career in the Sport and Recreation industry at certificate or diploma level.

The benefit is that students can enjoy study and sport/life balance, while at the same time having a range of options and career paths available to them at the end.

As part of the basketball program, students receive elite-level training and mentorship, working with industry greats such as Brendan Joyce, who served as Head Coach and High Performance Manager of the Australian Women’s National Program – the Opals.

Matua successfully applied for the two-year VCE Rising Stars program and absolutely loved his time at Chisholm.

In the morning, he would train with professional Australian coaches and in the afternoon, he would attend class.

“I found the learning experience was really good at Chisholm,” says Matua. “The teachers were always there to help and with the classroom sizes being a little bit smaller, communication with the teachers was a lot better. It was easier to ask for help when needed.”

Matua saw his performance improve not just in the classroom, but also on the court.

“We had a lot of big names coming to coach – it was amazing,” he says. “I’d never had that quality of training before and the intensity was really motivating. Every training session was always better than the last.”

Matua proved to be quite the “rising star” indeed – he won Secondary Student of the Year in the 2022 Chisholm Education Awards.

“I was shocked,” he says. “There’s definitely a lot of deserving people at Chisholm and I’m grateful and blessed to have been nominated.”

After finishing at Chisholm, Matua went on to do a Certificate III and IV in Fitness, so that he could pursue another area of interest – personal training.

“My dream is to make a difference in sport and in the fitness industry and to be an inspiration to younger kids,” he says.

Matua’s message to other young aspiring athletes is to “take every opportunity as it comes”.

“Go into it with a positive mindset, believe in your ability and help others out where you can.”