Meet the A-League’s Renaissance man

Jamie Young is not your average A-League player. While many spend their time away from football playing FIFA on PlayStation or at the beach, the Brisbane Roar goalkeeper is broadening his mind and helping others.

Jamie Young

Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young in action Source: AAP

For more than a decade Young, 32, has combined study with professional football.

He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Health Sciences from the University of Queensland, and is currently completing a psychology-based PHD in Sports Coaching. 

When he's not between the sticks for the Roar, Young also serves as an ambassador for a Queensland charity called the Multicultural Development Association (MDA), which assists refugees and gives motivational talks in schools.

For the Brisbane-born keeper, who spent 12 years playing in England, his passion for education began when his career was threatened by a ruptured tendon. 

"I got a serious injury in my hamstring (in 2007) and I thought I had better think about my future and start doing something," Young told The World Game.

"In England it was seen as if you study you're seen as busy. I thought I'm going to do something, I like sports science, I'm going to do it. I finished that and I also got qualified as a personal trainer. 

"The biggest reason I got an education was, one, I was interested in the subjects. And two, I understand that football is a temporary thing and it will end one day. And I want to get a job that is impactful after football. 

"I want to do something that I want to do and I want influence my life on my terms. If I walk away for football with a career and a PHD, then I’ve had a great run."

Despite an impressive run at the end of last season, Young found himself on the bench at Brisbane for the start of the 2017-18 A-League campaign. 

But the shot-stopper forced his way back into the starting line-up in round five and has played every game since.

Young has three clean sheets this season and is currently ranked second in the competition for saves behind Western Sydney Wanderers keeper Vedran Janjetovic.

Feeding the mind as well as the body is important to him, and his PHD involves investigating the relationship between coaches and athletes in Australian sport. Young is completing it part-time and it could take six years to finish.

"It covers the nature of what a coach/athlete relationship looks like and the behaviours that are used within that," he said.

"It’s more investigative than intervention-based. I've been a product of those behaviours for 16, 17 years. 

"What I'm starting to see is that the behaviours used aren't football-related, they're people related and those can be applied to any successful organisation.

Young hopes to find work as a lecturer or a sports psychologist one day, once he finally hungs up his gloves. 

"Studying really opens many doors," Young said.

"It was really about educating myself and giving back to other people – that’s a big thing. Football gives you a career but for most they cut and run."

Young's other interest is refugees and his own multicultural background – his mother hails from Sri Lanka and his father from Scotland – inspired him to get involved. He joined MDA (Multicultural Development Association) as an ambassador in 2014. 

"It's all about understanding different people from different walks of life, and having played in England I've had to do that," he said.

"I wanted to find out what it's like for people coming into the country. It’s a passion of mine.

"Australia's such a wonderful country, there's so many diverse cultures living in Australia and I wanted to understand how other people see life in Australia. 

"The biggest thing for me is going out and actually finding out myself, that's the real truth to all that. So I can have perspective on those topics, without having it sugar-coated by the mainstream media.

"I don't know enough to know about policies, but what I do know is the perception towards refugees is very fragmented. It's only one part of the story.

"When negative things happen, people get branded with a brush. I'd like to teach people not to judge so much but to empathise more. I wouldn't have had a career in football if I couldn't get on with people from all walks of life."

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4 min read
Published 15 February 2018 at 3:43pm
By John Davidson