Former Brisbane Roar youth and Newcastle Jets striker Harrison Sawyer provides insights into his career abroad, settling into Hong Kong, form with club side Tai Po and how PFA partner CEED Online Physio has aided his recovery from injury…

by Harrison Sawyer for

Newcastle Jets gave me an eye opener and in my short time there I learned a lot about professionalism and standards that you need to set yourself to continuously compete at the highest level possible.

Getting my first taste of professional football there and playing some games in the A-League was great for my development. In the off season I took that to Western Pride to get more games under my belt and I noticed the things in my game which had improved since being in a full time environment. That experience put me in decent shape scoring 15 goals in 7 matches in the NPL.

Since then I’ve been able to take confidence in my move abroad. Playing in the Philippines was a new experience.

The heat was ridiculous when I first moved, I lost 5 kilograms in the first few months there. In my team there was no language barrier as majority of my team were foreign born with Filipino heritage, mainly English born Filipinos. Personally I had a fairly successful season, scoring 10 goals in 15 games.

From there I’ve moved to Tai Po FC in the Hong Kong Premier League.

Here the language barrier is quite prominent however we have some players speaking fluent English and they translate for the foreign imports. A big difference from playing in Australia to playing here is you have to push your own standards and put in your own hours, especially for things like injury prevention.It’s not as closely monitored here, nor is specific extra training, which I believe is important as a striker.

The club arranged my apartment close to Tai Po – which is a regional area in New Territories, Hong Kong, so I’m away from the concrete jungle of the city and it’s a more quiet where I am.

This has ups and downs as it allows me to put in the time to my university studies (Sawyer is studying an Economics Degree) and I’m living in the same complex as my Brazilian teammates. It’s tough not having any family here in Hong Kong but I have made new friends, and Graham Harvey my old Western Pride coach is currently at Eastern FC, a team we will face in a few weeks time. So unfortunately I get to see more of him!

Unfortunately, I obtained a hip flexor injury last month. At the time I was in contact with Jon McKain (the PFA’s Socceroos and Overseas Player Development Manager) and he happened to mention CEED Online Physio – a partner of the PFA.

He put me straight in contact with Simon Storey at CEED and on the same day I was on a video call assessing what had happened. I couldn’t speak any higher about how successful my experience with CEED Physio was; after going through exercises and some tests over a video call I was immediately given a specialised daily program using a remotely accessible application. I was in contact everyday, sometimes twice daily with Simon who progressed me through various stages of rehab.

Initially I expected I would be out for a longer period but we had two weeks until our next match and I was adamant about playing. I was very happy Simon was able to help get me back on the park for our next game against Kitchee, managing 90 minutes and a goal.

So far we have begun the campaign fairly well, currently sitting 4th on the league table, and qualified for the semi final of our domestic cup. Personally I’ve had a good start with five goals in five appearances.

My short term goals for this season would be a top two domestic league finish and in a few months we begin our AFC Cup campaign as Tai Po qualified after finishing 2nd in the premier league last season. So I would like for us to progress as far as possible in the international competition.

A long term goal of mine, however far it may be, is to represent my country. That’s something I would be really proud of.