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Sports star returns to teaching with passion

The teaching profession became richer last month as a man with a passion for education retuned to the classrooms after a long break in the field.

Manoj Daji, a recipient of the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) in New Zealand’s New Year Honours List (Indian Newslink, January 15, 2014) has joined Auckland Grammar School as Head of Business Studies.

Until he decided to change the course of his career, he was the Chief Executive of ASB College Sport for more than five years.

The post made him responsible for facilitation of inter-secondary sport across New Zealand, covering 103 schools, 41 codes and 100,000 students.

Influencing factors

Mr Daji said that three factors influenced his decision to return to teaching, the first of which occurred in 2012 when he was coaching Hockey for the Spanish League in Spain while on unpaid leave.

He said that the time out made him realise his inherent passion for teaching, as well as coaching.

“The second reason was the stroke that I suffered during Easter last year. While convalescing, I thought about the best way of contributing to the society. When I returned to work, I coached a Hockey team at the level in which I started coaching 25 years ago. The experience confirmed that teaching and coaching were my strengths,” he said.

Strong commitment

Mr Daji said that the QSM Award for sports and education reinforced his commitment to enhance his contribution to the New Zealand society.

“Life is short and it is important that we individually contribute to the lives of others in our areas of strength. I therefore wanted to return to coaching and teaching. I undoubtedly enjoyed being the Chief Executive of ASB and the ability to influence some changes in sport at community level has been a wonderful experience both personally and professionally,” he said.

The 47-year old a fourth generation New Zealander was born, raised and educated in this country, like his parents Chandu Daji (former Auckland Indian Association President) and Bhanu.

Keen sportsman

Leadership qualities were inherent even during his younger days as he was the Head Prefect of Mt Roskill Grammar School. A graduate in Commerce from the University of Auckland, Mr Daji began his career at Deloitte New Zealand, but his qualification (Diploma) in Teaching took him to Avondale College, Senior College of New Zealand and Onehunga High Business School. His proficiency in teaching earned him a Royal Society of New Zealand Teaching Fellowship for Entrepreneurship Teaching in 2007.

His superb playing technique in Cricket and Hockey won for him and his country accolades over the years.

As well as representing both sports at age group level, he played for Auckland, Wellington and North Harbour provinces between 1987 and 1996.

Mr Manoj represented the New Zealand Indians Representative Hockey team, captaining the team in 1993 and playing international friendly matches against Japan and the US.

Message to youth

His message to young people of Indian origin in New Zealand was simple and straightforward.

“Do not look to celebrity culture for your inspiration but look around and look closer. We are surrounded by inspiration in the form of our parents, grandparents, family members, teachers and coaches,” Mr Daji said.

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