International student returns to studies and rugby

20 June 2021 | Students News

Lincoln’s first international student allowed back into the country to restart his programme says returning to New Zealand feels like an even bigger blessing and privilege than when he first enrolled.

Pano Eleftheriades describes himself as a Greek native, born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa, and is keen to play professional rugby in New Zealand.

The Bachelor of Sport and Recreation Management student is one of an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students allowed by the Government, at degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception allowed students to return to New Zealand in stages from April.

Pano has been in managed isolation, waiting to return to Lincoln.

“It was a smooth and manageable process,” he says. “Many staff and personnel are on-site to help you from the time you arrive till your last day in isolation. They even arranged an airport drop-off for me to return to Christchurch.

“Annie Goh, from the Lincoln international team, was, and continues to be, instrumental in assisting me throughout the process right up to my arrival in MIQ in Auckland. I was even sent a lovely welcome pack.”

Pano says he is impressed by the conditions in New Zealand, having returned to the country for the first time since the lockdown.

“The way New Zealand looks after its citizens and has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic is astonishing.

He was able to continue his studies online but faced challenges with his sport.

“My time in South Africa during the lockdown was not easy. This was the longest time I’ve gone without playing rugby and that felt like the biggest challenge of all. I faced many hurdles, for example, staying motivated with my studies and fitness training. Thanks to my rugby strength and conditioning coach, who sent me fitness plans.”

 He has firm plans for the future.

“After extensive research, I decided to come to Lincoln University to pursue a sporting career in rugby and gain a university degree at the same time. 


After all, I believe this country is one of the leading countries in the world, with abundant opportunities. Lincoln University was my first choice for both tertiary education, and to fulfil my dream of representing the Rams.


“In the future, I hope to fulfil my dream to play rugby professionally in New Zealand as well obtain a job through my degree and eventually one day become independent living in New Zealand."