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EIT degree helps young father kick goals

June 23, 2022

EIT student Ralph Yandall dreams of becoming a professional rugby coach.

An unfinished dream to become a professional rugby coach has seen Ralph Yandall overcome his fear of studying and enrol in a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at EIT.

Now halfway through his first year of the degree, Ralph says he is glad he took the plunge.

“I felt like God brought me to EIT for a reason, and I am really enjoying being here and being able to challenge myself.”

Originally from Samoa, Ralph grew up in Wellington before moving to Hawke’s Bay in 2020. In the past two years, he had gotten married and now has a five-month-old daughter called Janey.

The 30-year-old says the birth of his daughter is what inspired him to continue to pursue his dreams.

“My family is definitely my biggest motivation. They keep me driving for success and to excel through my studies.”

Sports, namely rugby, has always been a constant in Ralph’s life. And although he has had to give up playing the game due to concussion, he currently coaches a team at the Hastings Rugby & Sports Club.

He previously graduated with a Level 2 Certificate in Sports, Fitness and Health at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in 2013.

But family matters meant he was unable to further his education, and instead sought employment.

“That was one of the toughest times of my life not only because of what was going on with my family, but because I wasn’t able to continue with studying and never got a chance to fulfil my dreams.”

His wife, Amy, graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing from EIT, and encouraged him to study at the institute.

“I started to realise that I needed to up my knowledge in certain things. I chose sports because that is something I am passionate about and EIT gives me the opportunity to have that professional development.”

While studying with a newborn is no easy feat, Ralph says he wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of his wife.

“Having a family of my own has taught me to persevere and to keep going. I am so grateful for my wife as she’s a full-time mother and her dedication towards our daughter has helped me be able to study and complete all the work I need to.”

His lecturers have also been supportive and understanding of his dyslexia.

“Coming to EIT was the steppingstone for me to gain my confidence not only with overcoming my dyslexia, but also in reaching out to the learning advisor which has been really helpful for me.”

A highlight of the programme has been connecting with like-minded people.

“We’ve built a really solid foundation. I love seeing them every day, and just being able to study and work hard together.”

When he finishes his degree at the end of 2024, he aims to follow in the footsteps of his father who used to be a rugby coach in Samoa.

“I want to excel through coaching development. So, I want to do some coaching, professional rugby, or semi-pro teams.”