Queens Park Rangers footballer Dominic Ball, of Abbots Langley, has graduated from The Open University (OU) in the Class of 2020 after completing a BA (Hons) in business studies.
The 25-year-old defensive midfielder, who is pictured with his girlfriend, Jess, said that although football has always been his passion, he saw the opportunity to study a degree as a way to prepare for life after the game.
The Championship player explained: “Mum and dad trained as teachers, so I was always pushed in school. Even when football opportunities came, I was always pushed academically because the average length of a footballer’s career is seven years.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be in it for seven years now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to play until I’m 35, but most players have to work so I always thought I need to plan for my future.”
Dominic said the course’s online structure fit in well with his lifestyle as a footballer.
He added: “We travel a lot, sometimes twice a week for away games, but even in a hotel room you can do your work.
“I like the fact that I had the flexibility to get on and do my work on flights or at different clubs but keep up with my workload.
“When it came time for me to do my degree, university fees had gone up but the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) provided a bursary, which made it a lot more affordable as a young player.
“They provide financial support to young players which is brilliant – it pushes players to do something in education.”
At first Dominic found the course challenging but eventually found his feet and really excelled.
He said: “Initially, I didn’t engage with my tutors or get involved in the student community, so I struggled for the first half of a six-year course.
“I started to engage with my tutors and other students, which made the experience more enjoyable. In my last year, I finally understood how to structure my essays and assignments.”
Dominic didn’t experience the traditional graduation ceremony as he completed his degree during lockdown, but he said it was still a special moment for him and his loved ones.
Picture credit Studio86photography