Teng Koul, Class of 2021

One of seven boys, Teng is the first of his siblings to attend GVGS. “I enjoy having so many siblings they’re like my closest friends and we all get along really well too,” he says. “I’ve been playing soccer for a long time and all my siblings play too, so we bond over that. My older brothers play for interstate and international clubs so it’s a bit of a family passion.” Teng commenced in Year 7 on a Social Justice scholarship funded by the GVGS Foundation and immediately thrived in his new environment. “As soon as I started at GVGS, I enjoyed the new opportunities that came with being a part of the School. Being at Grammar opened a lot of doors for me and gave me a lot of opportunities that I’m really grateful for,” he says. “I’m the first person in my immediate family to finish VCE and I’m proud that I could do that, I proved to myself that I could do this.”

Like many other students during the past two years, Teng found virtual learning a challenge. “I didn’t really enjoy it I would much prefer to be onsite for school with more structure and less distractions. Staying consistently disciplined and focused was hard because I was at home with all my brothers. Some parts of online learning were challenging in a good way though, I did learn a lot about the way I operate and the way I learn,” he says. “It was disappointing not being able to play soccer during the various lockdowns too. I could only really play with my brothers and a few friends every now and then.”

As time went on, Teng became accustomed to being away from the classroom and found comfort in knowing this new way of learning wouldn’t last forever. “I was optimistic the whole time because I knew eventually everything would be back to normal. It was good to be able to spend quality time with my family and make our own fun, it was bonding time that I wouldn’t have been able to get in normal circumstances,” he says. “You kind of go into survival mode, I just made sure I always did the required work so I was on top of everything and also tried to keep my stress down by being a few steps ahead with my work when I could be. I still got to go running and do some exercise to help me relax, so it wasn’t all bad all the time.”

Teng says he is grateful for the support he got from the staff at GVGS throughout the pandemic. “My Year 12 teachers were very supportive, I know not every other school had the same support that we did,” he says. “All the support was there, I felt comfortable staying behind after a Zoom class and asking extra questions if I needed to. I knew that wasn’t going to be a problem, or a burden, for the teachers because they really wanted to help us, I felt really lucky.”

Next year, Teng plans to focus on his soccer and see how far he can take his sporting career. “I’ve decided that I won’t be heading to University in 2022. I think I will, but right now I’m not quite sure what course I want to do. I’d encourage anyone who isn’t sure about what to do when they finish school to just do what your heart tells you and follow your dreams no matter what,” he says. “At the moment, I’m making a bit of money coaching soccer. I just want to enjoy this time and the freedom that comes with having finished high school, so that’s my focus right now. I’m going to stick with soccer and see how far I can go. Hopefully I can have a successful professional career if I try hard enough”. Teng signed with Melbourne Victory in the A League Soccer Competition in March 2021 and has recently signed with the Central Coast Mariners Football Club in their Under 20’s side.

For 2022, Teng plans to make up for lost time. “Next year I’m really looking forward to creating my own path and reaching my potential as a person and an athlete,” he says. “Hopefully COVID is less of a barrier and I can throw myself into playing the sport that I love. I’m really keen to make up for the games and practice I’ve missed over the past two years.”