Matthew Pavlich was one of seven nominees for the AFL Players’ Association Madden Medal, an award that recognises more than on-field performances, with off-field achievements, personal development and community spirit also taken into account.
Matthew Pavlich’s decorated career needs no introduction.
The selfless leadership, the loyalty, the uncanny versatility, and the various accolades. We all know the on-field story of one of the greatest players to ever lace up the boots.
What you may not know, however, is the lengths the man affectionately known as ‘Pav’ went to in order to help his peers.
In 2008, after seeing so many of his contemporaries struggle due to the rigours of AFL, and the difficulty transitioning out of the game, Pavlich sought to make a difference.
“I put my hand up to become a delegate of Fremantle and that flowed through to being on the board as a director, then a vice president, and in the last couple of seasons as the president,” Pavlich told Aflplayers.com.au.
“I saw a number of players who would eke out a career for five or six or seven years — which is about the average of an AFL player — and in some ways they’d end up worse off than their classmates at school.
“Philosophically, that didn’t make sense. You enter this great system and you should be able to develop off and on the field and I wanted to assist players in that way.”
Surprisingly, Pavlich had his own worries when it came to longevity in the game. Those thoughts in his head didn’t stem from a lack of belief, but a concern for the unknown of professional sport.
Using himself as an example for other AFL players to follow was a much easier task given the lengths he went to off the field to better himself.
“Going in to the system as a 17-year-old from Adelaide, I had a level of self-belief and the work ethic to match that, but you don’t know what you don’t know.
“The off-field pursuits were born out of the uncertainty surrounding how long my career would last.
“A fall-back position was pretty vital, so I did a Bachelor of Science and Psychology, and now I’m just about to complete my MBA.”
It’s clear that there’s a direct correlation between off-field fulfilment and on-field success, with an abundance of programs available for modern day players to access.
There’s potentially no better example than that of Pavlich, who along with various studies undertaken, has immersed himself in a number of business ventures, including his work as the Co-Founder of Pickstar, and the Director of PMY Group.
“There’s enough empirical data from the Players’ Association and the AFL to suggest that the guys who are meaningfully engaged in something outside of the game are the ones that actually perform better on the field,” Pavlich added.
“Having active pursuits off the field has helped me to stay involved in the game and still have a passion for it.
“If I was only playing football, it would have worn me down much earlier. As a young captain, I had some really challenging times mentally.”
Pavlich has also been involed in a number of causes through his time, including Stand Up Events and Move In May, as well as being an ambassador for the University of WA.
“I’ve been fortunate to have more corporate or commercial ambassador relationships and clearly community and charity based as well.
“I’ve also done some work with Camp Quality, Paraplegic Benefit Fund and the Starlight Foundation. AFL players wield significant influence in the community, and like it or not, when you sign up you become an idol and a role model.”
The transition out of the AFL system is the next frontier for Pavlich, who has managed to set himself up seamlessly to attack life after football.
Rather than purely being defined by what happened on the field for 17 years, he leant from his parents who instilled some strong beliefs about endeavours off the field.
“I’m only one of so many guys that have had great stories, but unfortunately there’s the other side of the coin as well.”
Matthew Pavlich’s achievements on and off the field:
ON FIELD ACHIEVEMENTS
- 353 AFL Games
- Fremantle Best and Fairest 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011
- All-Australian 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
- Australian International Rules Squad 2002, 2003
- Club Leading Goalkicker 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012
- AFL Rising Star Nominee 2000
Off FIELD ACHIEVEMENTS
- Bachelor of Science
- Master of Business Administration
- AFLPA President
- Co-Founder of Pickstar
- Director of PMY Group
- Australia Day Ambassador
- University WA Ambassador
- Stand Up Events Ambassador
- Move in May Ambassador
- Starlight Foundation Ambassador
- Camp Quality Ambassador
- Paraplegic Benefit Fund Ambassador
- Fremantle Captain 2007–2015
- Fremantle Games record holder
- Fremantle Life Member
- AFL 300 Club