Most would be familiar with Luke Dahlhaus as the midfielder/forward playing for the Geelong Cats in the Australian Football League (AFL). It’s a role he relishes and missed when the country went into COVID “lockdown”. Living on his own meant he was more isolated than some and he missed the socialising aspect of footy.
The continuing threat of COVID to the AFL has also meant resuming play under strict guidelines. Until recently, the players were not permitted to see anyone they weren’t living with, so Luke had no face to face contact with his family for about 9 weeks. He admits it was a tough period and says his mum “shed a tear” when those restrictions were recently relaxed.
Back in the Classroom
Luke Dahlhaus confesses that school was never his favourite place. Like many students, the structure of school never suited him. He says, “I hated school. I was never going to uni and I’m a real hands on sort of bloke so carpentry was the sort of thing that appealed to me.”
For someone who disliked school so much, Luke is proving that you can achieve a lot when you find something you love. He has completed his Certificate III in Carpentry, his Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) and has started his Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) – all at the Trade Institute of Victoria (TIV).
Luke acknowledges that TIV proved a game changer for him. He actually started off doing his Certificate III at another trade school but lessons “kept clashing with football and it was a real grind.”
It was actually a video featuring Sam Lloyd from the Richmond Tigers that convinced Luke to give learning another go at TIV. The suitability of TIV for AFL players in particular was something that appealed to him. As a first grade player, Luke’s training schedule is full on but it’s also something that is constantly changing. He explains that besides regular training sessions, other things also come up. “Sometimes you lose a game and then all of a sudden there’s a crisis meeting and all that sort of stuff.” TIV allows him the flexibility to deal with any changes that arise.
The Virtual Classroom
Luke was more than happy to make the trek from Geelong to Williamstown North to attend classes in person. When COVID hit and lessons were delivered through a virtual classroom, Luke was worried he wouldn’t cope with online learning. But as with everything else about TIV, he can’t praise them enough.
“They’ve been really unbelievable to me. I have learned a lot.” He says of his trainer Bill Spencer, “I’ve sort of become mates with him. He’s been so good to me. So super flexible. I’m a hands-on learner and I guess he understands that. He gives me that extra time, a little bit more help and treats me with respect. He understands that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. So I can’t thank him enough.”
Life After Footy
At the moment Luke is loving his time with Geelong. He’s thankful for a successful career that has also seen him win a premiership with the Bulldogs in 2016, their first in 62 years. “That was incredible”, he reminisces. But he’s also aware that footy doesn’t last forever. These courses he’s completing are setting him up for life after football.
He explains that he’s been lucky enough to have invested in a house and says, “eventually I’d like to renovate it myself”. He’ll certainly have all the skills required. He also has a mate in the building trade who has told him there’s a job waiting for him after footy. So it looks like Luke has a clear path set out and is easily gaining his qualifications while maintaining a first grade playing schedule and career.
“I’ve recommended TIV to heaps of the Geelong boys”, he says. He explains that Geelong is made up of “pretty much 19 year olds on one hand” and “older” players like him aged 27 to 33. He knows the “younger boys are all trying to figure themselves out” but he’s happy to give them advice and steer them in the direction of a trade course at TIV.
After studying with TIV, Luke can confidently say that “for us as AFL players there’s no other trade school like it to be honest”.