In the wake of the Madden Medal presentation in March, the retiring class of 2019 have been putting together a letter to their younger selves detailing the lessons they learned during their careers. Over the last month, aflplayers.com.au have published the letters of these players to help celebrate their achievements. Here is former Bulldog Dale Morris’ letter to his younger self.
Who would’ve thought that dream you had to make it to the AFL has come true?!
Now, stop everything and ring your Mum and Dad before you forget again (sorry).
You never stopped believing in yourself, even after getting knocked back twice from the Calder Cannons and playing in the VFL for four years with Werribee.
Keep that belief and dream of big things, it has got you this far and who knows where it will take you.
I’m not going to tell you what is going to happen or the many, many challenges you will face (the good, the bad and everything in between) because every moment is going to shape the person and player you will become.
It’s all going to happen for a reason, trust me.
Footy is now your job, and it’s the best job in the world and you will have the time of your life and meet some amazing people along the way.
But it’s going to test and push you to your limits and beyond both mentally and physically. There are going to be many lessons along the way that you can reflect and learn from, no matter how good or bad they seem, and you will grow even stronger.
Keep that positive attitude no matter what, it’s a real strength of yours.
I’m also not going to tell you how long your journey will go, if you will play a game or even have any success, because I want you to aim as high as you can and continue to push yourself and no matter what happens, you will be happy.
Play like it’s your last game, train to get better, not to get through, and make those around you the best they can be.
Be the best at the little things, the one-percenters, the blocks, the tackles.
They will come in handy (especially the last one).
Remember what Dad used to say to you, Dean and Jono, ‘When you go out there, pretend it’s your ball and they have taken it’.
Be proud of who you are and don’t try to be someone you are not.
The AFL world can be a very stressful one. As much as you love footy and want to make the most out of this unreal opportunity, don’t let it be all you think about 24/7.
Be where your feet are, use your time away to get balance and be yourself. You will learn this later in life but do it now.
If you want to relax by being the gamer you are, then do it (if it wasn’t for Halo, you would find out that the PlayStation is probably better than the XBOX), or if you want to watch the Simpsons all morning, then do it, keep studying, get out, get work experience, and be present at home. The time away from footy is just as important as the time in footy.
The club you are about to walk into is your home, treat it that way. The more you invest and give of yourself to this place, the more it will give you back in return. So, give it all you have and treat everyone how you want to be treated. They will look after you.
Enjoy the ride and no matter how serious things may get remember, it’s just footy so have fun like you did at Doutta Stars.