Mark Paston

Before he became a professional footballer at the age of 26, Mark completed a Bachelor of Science at Victoria University of Wellington.

Photo courtesy of Wellington Phoenix FC.

New Zealanders were on the edge of their seats as the All Whites took on some of the world’s top footballing nations at the World Cup in South Africa. And between the goalposts was Victoria University of Wellington alumnus Mark Paston.

Before he became a professional footballer at the age of 26, Mark completed a Bachelor of Science at the University.

“I majored in Computer Science and Electronic and Computer Systems, then travelled overseas before deciding to give professional football a shot,” he says.

A decision that's certainly paid off for the goalkeeper, as he's starred for Wellington Phoenix FC and the national team.

“Beginning professional football later in life is not that unusual in New Zealand where lots of players have degrees. It's a good thing because it makes for well rounded individuals.”

During his time at the University, Mark commuted home to the Hawkes Bay to play football for Napier City Rovers.

“It's where my family was based and where my wife’s from. I did find the workload pretty intense at university, especially in my third year. Part of that was the travel back and forth but I also found the courses very challenging—though, because of that, very rewarding.”

Although Mark’s focus is firmly on performing for club and country, he's also thinking about what he’ll do after he hangs up his boots.

“It's a great job but you're not going to be a footballer forever. It's good to have the background I have up my sleeve,” says Mark.

Last year, he got in touch with IT company Datacom about gaining work experience in the industry.

“I ran out of time in the end unfortunately—my boy was born last August, we had the World Cup qualifiers and the Phoenix made it to the semi finals—but I'm definitely keen on working in the area and using my other skills.”