It seems a bit premature to suggest that all recent AFL draftees start thinking about life after football – particularly considering their professional football career is still only two-months old!
But the reality is the average career-span for an AFL footballer is less than five years, which is considerably less than most occupations.
Take the Brisbane Lions for example. Of the 146 players who have played at least one senior match with the Club since 1997, a total of 67 (46%) have played 22 games – which is the equivalent of one full season – or less.
A further 34 listed Lions players have been cut before having the opportunity to play even one senior match.
At the opposite end of the scale is Simon Black, who is approaching a remarkable 16th AFL season. But he, like many of his Premiership teammates, is the exception.
The Lions’ Head of Welfare, Leadership and Culture, Manny Lynch, is a strong advocate of players having a ‘Plan B’ to fall back in case their time in the AFL is short-lived.
“Footy is something you do in your life, it’s NOT your life,” Lynch said.
“To have these guys up-skilled to transit out of the AFL is a terrific situation.”
“We also believe that if players stay busy and build their own capabilities, it will help them stay in the system longer. It gives them an outlet from footy. So when footy doesn’t necessarily go so well, they’ve still got something else to sink their teeth into.”
The Lions’ first-year players were educated on ‘life after football’ at the AFLPA Induction Camp held in Melbourne earlier this month – and it certainly gave them something to think about.
“I hadn’t even thought about life after footy really, but it’s definitely something I’m going to start looking into,” draftee Marco Paparone said.
“I think this year I’ll just concentrate on footy, but next year I might look at going to Uni. I don’t know what I will study yet, but I’d like to do something.”
Others, such as Sam Mayes and Nick Hayes, have a clearer idea as to how they intend to spend their time away from the Hyundai Centre.
“I got picked up in the Rookie Draft, so I was kind of already planning for next year,” Hayes said. “I was going to do engineering at Uni, and I reckon I’ll still follow that.”
“However, I might pick that up halfway through this year and take the first half of the year to just settle in and get used to footy schedule.”
Mayes, meanwhile, is hoping to develop a trade.
“This year I’m probably just going to put everything into footy,” Mayes said.
“But I’ve always had an interest in Carpentry as an apprenticeship, so maybe next year I’ll get stuck into that and try and chip away at it while playing footy.”
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