Hartpury graduate Junior awarded for making a difference in Malaysia

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A Hartpury graduate who’s helping to build the profile of Malaysian football has been recognised for his achievements by the British Council after scooping an Alumni Award.

Junior Eldstal, a Sports Coaching degree graduate from Hartpury, has won the Professional Achievement Award in the recent British Council Alumni Awards in Malaysia, after being shortlisted from more than 60 applicants.

Eldstal said: "What an amazing feeling to win an award for Professional Achievement. It was an honour to be surrounded by so many people that inspired me. I would not have been able to achieve any of this without the support from my family and of course Hartpury. Hartpury really helped me achieve what I thought was the impossible. Never give up on a dream".

“If it wasn’t for the educational system and what they offer at Hartpury then I wouldn’t be where I am today; I’m very grateful. Without what I learnt at university, I also wouldn’t be the athlete I am.

“Since being in Asia and becoming a professional footballer I’ve tried to get involved in as many schemes as I can which are designed to help student athletes. Particularly with football, it can be a very short career and education is really important – especially once you’re finished playing.

Eldstal, who was an important part of a successful period for Hartpury’s senior football academy during his time studying, now plays professionally for Johor Darul Takzim in the Malaysian Super League and he has also represented the Malaysian National Team.

Hartpury Principal Russell Marchant said: “We welcome students from across the world and I am delighted when alumni go on to achieve their dream careers after studying our courses in either animal, agriculture, equine or, like Junior, sport.  Professional football was always Junior’s dream and staff at Hartpury are proud to have been part of the nurturing that has helped him achieve his ambition.  I congratulate him on winning this award.”

After leaving Hartpury, Eldstal was signed by Sarawak FC back in 2013 before a number of good performances saw the midfielder bought by Johor Darul Takzim. He has since gone on to help them claim two Super League titles, a Malaysian FA Cup and the Asian Football Confederation cup.

Director of Elite Sport at Hartpury, Tom Radcliffe, added: “Junior’s football career goes from strength to strength and is built, in part, on the combination of his sports coaching degree and training gained at Hartpury University Centre and Hartpury Football Academy.

“I believe the values he developed on his course have helped him reach this level and we watch his career progression with interest and pride.  He is an inspirational role model to young players in Malaysia, helping build the profile of football, along with multi culturalism, tolerance and the opportunities that study in Great Britain can bring.”

It was the first time that the Alumni Awards, which are held in 14 locations around the world, have been bought to Malaysia. Their aim is to demonstrate the impact that a UK education can have upon individuals in countries around the world, as well as to inspire others to reach their potential by studying in the UK.

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