Jimmy Toumpas played 37 games for Melbourne and Port Adelaide from 2013-2018. Having transitioned out of the AFL system at the end of last year, he took the opportunity to reflect on his career and the transition process.
Being a high draft pick, I had quite high expectations of my career.
The AFL system was much more challenging than what I had anticipated and after a few years in, and not really cementing a spot in either Melbourne or Port Adelaide’s 22, I started taking my off-field development more seriously.
I was still quite young and at that point felt like I was going to have a long career but I began to put a plan in place just in case things didn’t work out how I had hoped.
Preparing my life away from football meant that when I was delisted at the end of last year, I was well-prepared and had things in place to step into post-footy.
Obviously, it was a dream of mine to play AFL football and have what I hoped would have been a long and successful career, and even though it didn’t work out I was still able to live out my dream and put plans in place which I could then step into straight away.
Two years ago I developed a passion for the property industry.
During that time my passion was in construction and so I started a Cert IV in Building Construction through TAFE SA while I was still playing football and complemented that study with an internship at property company, Quattro.
They’re quite a diverse company that focus on construction services, residential development and property management, among other things.
Having so many focus areas meant I was able to try my hand at different things and learn as much as I could about the Construction Industry while I was with Quattro.
Balancing study and my internship for 18 months was really beneficial and gave me a bit of a taste of what a typical 9-5 job would look like post my football career.
When the invitation to the AFL Players’ Transition Camp was extended to me there was a bit of trepidation prior to going.
Although I knew some of the players who had been to the inaugural camp had received jobs and leads from their experience, there was a level of concern that it would be Victorian-focused.
My goals for the two days would be to meet people, network and see where the journey could go in terms of learning and connecting with the post-football career of my dreams.
I’ve always been big on networking throughout my career and I really enjoy meeting new people, so after speaking to my AFLPA Regional Manager Jace Bode and Port Adelaide PDM John Hinge about the camp I jumped at the opportunity and gained a heap from the experience.
Before attending, I put together a list of the companies and businesses that were presenting and which of those I wanted to speak to first, and worked out the sort of questions I wanted to ask.
There were a few property companies and ones in the property industry, including Ray White Real Estate, so I went and had conversations with them and gathered some information.
After the camp, I followed up with a few of the companies and sent emails thanking them for their time and reiterated what I wanted to achieve.
I was fortunate enough to get a positive response from one of the Directors of Ray White in Ferntree Gully. Although he was based in Melbourne, he passed on the contact details for one of the South Australian Directors.
I met with him prior to Christmas and received a job offer shortly after, which is really exciting.
It goes to show that if you put your best foot forward and attack everything you do in a positive manner, things can work in your favour.
I give this advice to any first-year player, and although I figured it out after a few years, it’s something I wish I knew when I first entered the AFL system.
It’s important to take the first 12 months of your AFL career in and really enjoy what it brings to you.
Learn as much as you can about the club you’re at, the game plan and everything that comes with it but after that time it’s important to take your career into your own hands from an off-field point of view.
Over the last couple of years the AFLPA and the club PDM’s have been brilliant in helping players put things in place and educating them on what your options are outside of football and how best to utilise your half-day and days off.
I wish I had that knowledge in my first year.
For the players that do finish up their career this year, the transition camp is an amazing opportunity to meet so many people.
You’ll have the chance to meet other players who have finished their careers and share stories about your experiences whilst also making good mates.
I know for the boys interstate there is trepidation about going and wondering whether or not you’ll get out something out of it.
I was fortunate enough to get a job from it but at the very least you’ll make connections and generate leads.
It’s a really beneficial two days and you get out as much as you’re willing to put in.