Positivity and perseverance pay off for Providence rugby league star
Jake Foster’s decades-long career in Rugby League is a perfect example that positivity and perseverance are key ingredients for success.
The Easts Tigers Captain and Providence resident admitted that as a young football player, he didn’t exactly stand out as a future shining star. But playing professionally was always a dream, and thanks to a healthy dose of determination he was able to make that dream a reality.
“I didn’t make any real representative teams when I was younger, so it was really a matter of perseverance and hard work which turned into opportunity,” Foster said.
“The dream was always to get into the NRL, but it wasn’t until about the age of 18 when my skills really started to grow and I began to think I could make it happen.
“The biggest thing for was staying positive. No matter how bad the situation, I’m a big believer in the idea that negativity only brings negativity. Whether you’re a young person and you’re being told you cannot do something, or you’re an athlete who doesn’t make the team, being down in the dumps won’t help your situation.
“It’s about seeing the positive side in things, looking for where you can improve, and working on turning things around to move forward,” he said.
Foster’s growing skill on the field and positive attitude eventually launched his football career into the NRL, where he made his debut with the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2010. Foster played 10 games with the Bulldogs’ NRL side and helped their reserve grade win the premiership for three consecutive years. He then moved on to play for Canberra under a two year contract, contributing to both the Raiders in the NRL and Mounties in the VB NSW Cup the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
“In 2014, I was with the Raiders again and had a pretty good year, but unfortunately only played one game of NRL,” Foster said.
Once again, his positivity and perseverance was called to action, and instead of dwelling on the lack of NRL exposure during the season he became the Mounties’ shining star. He was named NSW Cup player of the year, second rower of the year, captain of the year, and also played in the NSW residents state of origin.
“Although I wasn’t really thinking about the accolades when I was on the field, it was nice to get some rewards for the good footy I was playing,” Foster recalled.
The commendations, however, were only the icing on the cake following a career highlight in 2013 when Foster was selected to play for the Indigenous All Stars team.
“I didn’t really believe that I was selected at first, but I was given a chance to represent my background and it was one of the highlights of my career. I played with some of the greats like Greg Inglis, Johnathon Thurston and Justin Hodges – it was humbling to be around them off the field.
“When we played in Brisbane that year, it was a packed out stadium and we won, so that was definitely one of the most memorable moments.”
Surrounded by fans in Suncorp Stadium, Foster helped the Indigenous All Stars beat the NRL All Stars 32-6. It was an impressive victory, but Foster’s biggest takeaway from the experience was in the leadup to the game, when the indigenous team got together to attend a camp which was designed to strengthen their connection to their culture
“In the first few days of the camp we sat down as a group and had facilitators come in and educate us on where we’re from, our history and where we can improve as a people. We had elders come down and talk to us about their experiences, and how much their culture means to them,” Foster said.
“To learn all that history that hasn’t been brought to the surface - it definitely opened up my eyes and sunk in the depths of our identity.”
As part of the camp, the team also visited a number of schools in Brisbane, where children had the chance to talk to their sporting heroes and find out about what it takes to make it to the top. The team also participated with the children in several structured football programs and other recreational activities that Foster could only describe as a rewarding experience.
“It was good to get around to the schools and be role models to the kids, showing them that the opportunities are there for the taking,” Foster said.
The game was really just the icing on the cake after that. I can’t explain the reward you get seeing how much you can impact someone. To see how much fun these kids were having – if I was asked to do that camp again and not play, I would.”
In 2015 Foster joined the Easts Tigers and moved to the Ripley Valley, where he and his wife became one of the earliest residents at Providence. On the field, his captaincy and position as second row has helped the Tigers maintain a strong performance, making it to the grand final against Redcliffe in 2018 and beginning the 2019 season with a three game winning streak. Off the field, however, life is a little calmer.
“I absolutely love where I live. Whenever the wife and I get some free time we love to out and grab breakfast and a coffee,” Foster said.
“I enjoy relaxing mostly, there’s nothing better than waking up to a good morning, getting a coffee and going for a walk with the dogs.”
After what seems like a lifetime of football achievements, Foster said he’s considered hanging up his boots. However, his drive and unwavering positivity has never left him, as he intends to carry it through to the next chapter.
“My ambitions and drive is more toward the next chapter, but I definitely see somewhere in the future getting into coaching or sports training with rugby league. Other than my family, it’s the longest relationship I’ve had.
“Life, and the game, is about taking opportunities when they’re in front of you – they’re usually rare – and just making sure that whether it is a trial game or there are league scouts watching you, you put in the effort to prove yourself.
“I carry that idea with me when things don’t go well … it’s about saying ‘it is what it is, let’s jump the fence and get on with it’. It’s about being the best player and person you can be, both on and off the field.”