Meet Murdoch Athletics Captain: TJ Callas

TJ Callas is your Captain. At just 20, he is pursuing a double major in Cyber Forensics and Information Security as well as minoring in Screen Production. TJ is working full time as an intern (Graduate Reporting Engineer) with Empired LTD, a casual retail team member with Super Cheap Auto, training six days a week as WA Athlete (State and National Representatives) and is the Sports and Athletics Captain of Murdoch University. Hailing from Guinea, West Africa 9 years ago TJ has come a long way. As a youth, he was faced with many traumas relating to language barriers, racism, and his own mental health. He says, he owes his success all to his sports and athletics. Today TJ is working hard on his own Athletics Program dedicated to helping youths overcome their trauma. I decided to find out more.

Hey TJ, give me a run down on your involvement in athletics.

So basically I’m a 100m and 60m sprinter as well as a long jumper. My best for the 100m is 10.54, 6.86 seconds for the 60m and 7.20m for the long jump. I train 6 days a week. I am also a Level two Athletics Australia coach with WA Little Athletics as one their coaches for Little Athletics Programs for Schools (LAPS) teaching and demonstrating the fundamental skills of athletics at all levels of athletics discipline which includes running, jumping and through as well as train the Murdoch Vikings Athletics team.

How well did Murdoch Vikings do in the Uni games last year?

We did really well. Last year Murdoch was represented in nearly all event disciplines. Every athlete made it to the final, placing us in the top four or five). 9 out of 13 Athletes made it to either the final or semi-final of his/her competition events. Overall we won 3 medals (two gold and one silver) and we broke a 32 year old record.

What is the main goal for your athletics?

I am hoping to qualify and compete at the Commonwealth or Olympic Games as a 100 meter sprinter. I don’t believe in excuses I believe in results, however with work, uni and training full time it’s very hectic, but I take every opportunity that comes. This is why I tell myself that “I will persist until I succeed”. It does not matter how or when I get there, all on my mind is to make it to one of the games one day by God’s help.

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When did you start using sport to overcome your trauma?

When I first came to Australia I didn’t speak English well, so I used sport to help me learn the language, meet new people and becoming more confident in myself. At that time I didn’t know what depression and anxiety were. I used to get bullied, and when I went through puberty I started to feel insecure about myself at times. When I was in year 8 I encountered racism, as I was the only black kid in the whole school during that time. So to overcome this I started to hang around people who did sports and I associated myself with them. I found when I was doing sport I just focused on what was in front of me instead of worrying about people or other things in my life.

You have a dream project that you’re in the process of creating.  What’s it all about?

Sports Assisting Youths (SAY) is a project I am developing alongside NFP to help youths of this generation grow stronger so they may face their everyday fears and overcome trauma, with the help of athletics. The aim is to have a facility that includes an indoor gym, swimming pool, basketball court and an oval. The facility would be available on a 24/7 basis to anyone who might at any moment be experiencing traumas in their life and cannot see a way out.

What is your goal for this project?

I want to ease the amount of suicide rates among youths. Today too many youths harm themselves due to depression, anxiety and lack of confidence. Reflecting on myself, I once suffered from depression but with the use of sport, it has helped me overcome the many failures, breakdowns, and traumas in my daily life.

How can people help your project or follow your journey?

You can find me on Social Media here:

Facebook Page: facebook.com/athleticsmylife/     

Instagram: @tjcallas

SnapChat: t.callas  

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Interview & Photography by Harry Cunningham

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