Sporting stars achieve firefighting goals with FRNSW - VIDEO - Orchard Hills
Published: 27 May 2022 12:13pm
Four sporting figures are among the recruits on parade at today’s Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Graduation ceremony at the Emergency Services Academy in Sydney’s west.
31-year-old Unai Bell first played soccer as a four-year-old in his native Spain.
By 14, he had signed with his first professional football club and debuted with La Liga side, RCD Espanyol, two years later.
It was there, during a match against Barcelona’s “B” team in 2006, that he played on a wing opposite a young Lionel Messi, arguably the world’s best soccer player.
Unai represented Spain’s Under-18’s and had a brief stint with English club, West Bromwich Albion, before playing for Los Angeles and Miami.
When an ankle injury cut short his career, Unai, who has most recently been running a soccer academy on Sydney’s northern beaches, turned to his other dream…to become a firefighter.
“I kind of feel blessed that I’ve had two very big dreams and I managed to achieve them both…I’m still pinching myself over that,” Unai said.
“I think an advantage that professional athletes have is they develop a lot of good discipline, which I think is key to becoming a firefighter…as everything is disciplined here at Fire and Rescue NSW.
“It’s in everything you do…your life is at risk, it’s your crew on the line…you have to be responsible, so you take care of yourself, you take care of your fitness…
“When you check your gear, you make sure everything’s fine…so a lot of the things that I did as a professional athlete, I looked after myself, I looked after my gear…my boots…I made sure everything was fine.”
Cameron Peterson has joined FRNSW after a career as a professional cyclist.
Influenced by many of his friends who are firefighters, Cameron competed in the national road racing circuit and raced in the United States and across Asia, where he enjoyed terrific success.
Cameron, from St Ives in Sydney, also sees a lot of similarities in sport and firefighting.
“What a lot of people don’t know about cycling that it’s a real team-orientated sport, especially at the professional level, and you’re kind of riding, racing and living with groups of about four to ten people…and I’ve really noticed that in the last few weeks, when we’ve been doing the hot cells and the burns training (recruit firefighter course)…you really have to be part of that team, otherwise it doesn’t work,” Cameron said.
“Like four members of a cycling team or four in a fire truck, one doesn’t work without the other, especially when you run into a simulation of a service station fire.
“(Firefighting) appeals as a team thing, the working hours are great, you can go to work and everything’s a little bit different which is the same as cycling, you’re not going into the same office every day, you’re not constantly on the computer, you’re doing something a little bit different every day.”
Greg Tobin is about to graduate as an “On-call” firefighter in Newcastle, where he’s notched up a reputation as a champion surf life-saver and Australian canoeing representative.
He featured in the 2015 World Canoeing Championships, competing in a gruelling two-hour, 24-kilometre coastal open water race.
Greg has also won multiple Australian surf ski titles at surf life-saving events.
“Essentially, surf life-saving is a public safety-derived sport…so that’s driven into you as a little nipper all the way through to adulthood…it gives you a great emergency response mindset,” Greg said.
“It makes you confident that if you have to ‘put the hammer down’ when you’ve got to go in for a search and rescue, your body can withstand what the job’s going to throw at you.
“There is a rigorous recruitment process that I’ve just been through and apart from that, it’s making sure the body and the mind, and your overall wellbeing, can withstand the rigours that are thrown at you in the job.”
Emma Treanor’s initial plan in life was to join the Irish Police Force, known as the “Garda.”
But as a college student, she was contracted to play a soccer match and was forced to miss her entrance exam.
Then came the global economic crisis and a moratorium on recruitment.
Emma ended up in Australia where she represented Ireland in a series of hybrid Australian Rules/Gaelic football matches.
She then participated in the local Sydney AFL competition, first with the UTS Shamrocks and now the Randwick Saints.
Emma has also played for Ireland in two AFL International Cups, competing against sides from England, Canada, South Africa and Papua New Guinea.
With a degree in Sports Management and a Masters in Health Promotion, her focus on health and fitness has helped her through the Fire and Rescue NSW recruitment process.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re playing professionally or you’re playing junior grades or community sport, it’s still very, very similar, you’re still part of a team,” Emma said.
The recruits are encouraging others with a love of fitness, variety of work and a community-minded approach to consider a career with Fire and Rescue NSW, particularly as “On-call” firefighters in regional areas.
“You’re still meeting new people, you’re still learning how to act around others…you learn how to empathise…how to win…how to lose, you learn how to take criticism…share your skillsets and learn from others…it doesn’t matter what level you’re playing at,” Emma said.
Media note: you can access footage of Unai Bell scoring a ‘bicycle kick’ goal and other highlights here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGtkLxH-Jx8 [external link]
Stills images of all featured firefighters can be obtained here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1FWEJQ0AcUXxy5tnbrmFgbiOTXstJWfTX?usp=sharing [external link]
Updated: 30 Jan 2023 09:14pm
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