Darren Moulder, Sportsmart Retail Operations Manager and Eastern Ranges Assistant Coach
For many, playing football is a major part of life. But it can become tough when having to juggle football, studies, family and other sporting commitments. I am involved with an under-18 team in the most elite AFL competition, and I see many boys faced with these issues.
In my opinion, young footballers should first prioritise family, then education. Attend an English lesson over a footy training session.
Players fortunate enough to make it all the way to the AFL should remember that most footballers will get injured at some stage and, once finished playing, will no longer be at full health. Also, the average playing time for an AFL footballer is only 4 years. If you are lucky enough to become an average AFL footballer, what will you do when you finish playing at the grand old age of 22 or 23? Even at a local level, most players have hung up their boots by their early 30s. This is when you will need family and friends the most.
Be organised and use your time well. Create a planner for each day with each hour allocated to specific tasks. An example for a footballer in secondary school:
7am–8am Extra training
7pm–8pm Recovery/free time
9pm–bed Free time
It is structured but gives you time to devote to everything that is important to you now and in the future. Family first, then education, then football.
I personally hoped to play the highest level but missed out due to injury. Luckily, I put a lot of effort into my education and I now have a successful working career in an industry I enjoy. If I focused purely on football, who knows where I would be now?