Partnerships Players

Neal-Bullen graduates from Torrens University Australia with Education Excellence honour

Melbourne player Alex Neal-Bullen has been honoured for his outstanding academic achievements, receiving the Education Excellence Award for his faculty from Torrens University Australia.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) degree from Torrens University as part of their partnership with the AFL Players’ Association, Neal-Bullen’s dedication to his studies while juggling AFL commitments was celebrated in a ceremony held at Flemington Racecourse.

When accepting the Education Excellence Award, Neal-Bullen spoke to his appreciation for the education he undertook with the University.

“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has been part of this incredible journey,” Neal-Bullen said in his acceptance speech.

“To the faculty who have inspired and guided us, to our fellow students who have supported and encouraged us, and to our families and friends who have been our pillars of strength, thank you.”

As his AFL career in Melbourne began, Neal-Bullen put his educational aspirations on hold to prioritise the demands of being a full time professional athlete.

While the footballer acknowledged the importance of dedicating himself to his career, he understood the AFL industry’s finite lifespan.

Seven years on from being drafted, the South Australian-born Neal-Bullen committed himself to his tertiary education and began preparing for life beyond football.

In 2021, Neal-Bullen started his study with Torrens University as one of three players awarded full scholarships through the university’s partnership with the AFL Players’ Association.

“This feeling of wanting to be prepared for the finish line helped me identify that a Bachelor of Business and Sports Management aligned with my interest and passions away from the AFL oval, promoting me to step back into the shoes of being a university student in 2021.

“My learning routine throughout this degree involved finding great balance between work, study and my home life.

“Often this would mean arriving home from a full day at the football club, having a quick dinner with my wife, for me to then sneak off to catch up on my weekly reading requirements and assessments.

“Although at times, there were moments I questioned if I had the energy to complete the work at a high level, I was constantly driven by the fact that this course gave me an opportunity to combine all my interests of sport, workplace culture, leadership and people management with a platform to delve deeper into this field and contribute positively to society and my own sporting team.”

Through the AFLPA’s partnership with Torrens University, all members can receive a 25 per cent scholarship to aid their tuition, alongside the current Education & Training Grants. They also have access to a Dedicated Education Services Officer through the Elite Athlete Program.

In his speech, Neal-Bullen identified a pivotal moment, following Melbourne’s drought-breaking 2021 AFL premiership victory, which influenced his academic path – with support from the University’s learning facilitators along the way.

“After a week-long celebration with friends and family, I remember returning to my first collaboration session for an accounting subject and fair to say I had a bit to learn in a short time.” Neal-Bullen said.

“I had a decision to make – I could approach the subject as a tick-the-box exercise where I did the bare minimum, or I could go all in and try to learn all the theories and equations to the best of my ability.

“I chose the second option, because I enjoy the challenge of having your back up against the wall and finding a way to success.

“I needed all the support I could get – with support from my learning facilitator, I completed extra sessions as she guided me through the topics to ensure I completed the subject at a high level.”

Alex Neal-Bullen’s commitment to his education and study efforts enabled him to acquire more than just a Bachelor of Business (Sports Management) degree from Torrens University.

“This experience confirmed to me that the true value of education is not just about acquiring knowledge”.

“It’s about the relationships we build, the challenges we overcome, and the growth we experience along the way.

“It’s about embracing every opportunity to learn, grow, and make a difference.”