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Dan Jackson – The Travelling Man

Richmond star and Ladder Ambassador Dan Jackson provides a glimpse into the man behind the Tiger through these 10 questions which appeared in the Herald Sun today.

1. Take us a through a day off for Dan Jackson, I’m hearing it doesn’t involve the couch and X-Box?

I still manage the odd game of FIFA on the PlayStation with Sammy Lloyd who lives with me but he often complains that I need to stop going to meetings and spend more time at home! My day off usually always starts with weights at Fitness First with Kingy, Ty Vickery and his dad John followed by a massage at the club and often a trip to the St Kilda Sea Baths. Then from lunchtime onwards I’ve generally either got meetings involving Ladder, AFLPA, Big Brothers Big Sisters or I’ll be talking at a school. Occasionally I’ll keep the day free and go surfing but unfortunately that doesn’t happen very often any more.

2. Has this always been your personality, keeping busy and interested in things other than kicking around a Sherrin?

I was never a kid who dreamed of playing in the AFL, probably because I wasn’t a great player — I never played for Victoria or any rep sides as a junior. I think for that reason I never thought I’d last very long once I did get drafted and so while I always made sure to have a crack at everything I did at footy, I also made sure to keep my options open outside of footy just in case it didn’t work out. I started my Commerce degree part time at Melbourne Uni straight out of school which kept me busy for eight years. Once that was done I didn’t know what to do with the spare time I had so I got involved with a few charities and other things just to make sure I had something to take my head away from footy when I wasn’t at the club.

3. Out of all the things you’ve been involved in away from the football field, which one has impacted on you the most?

Being involved at Ladder and the other NFPs has enabled me to meet, hear stories and learn from some great people from all walks of life. It’s often put things into perspective for me, especially when I have been struggling with footy (which has been a lot over the last 11 years!) hearing about other peoples battles in life, whether that be living on the street, drug addiction or dealing with depression. I reckon your attitude to anything comes mostly from the perspective you have on it and I feel I’ve developed a much better perspective on things after having been exposed to so many different people and their stories over the years.

4. What’s the best advice you’d give a young player coming into the AFL about handling life away from the field?

I couldn’t push enough how important it is to have some balance in their lives, that also goes for students, CEOs, teachers, it doesn’t matter what you do, too much of anything is generally not a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, you have to do the hard work if you want to succeed, but when you can you need to do things you enjoy as well. For some that might be study, other part time work, or it could be golf (in moderation!), spending time with family, etc. As long as there is something to take your mind off footy.

5. When did you get the travel bug?

I’m not sure when I got ‘the bug’ but there hasn’t been an off-season in which I haven’t gone overseas for at least a month. I guess being Melbourne born and bred, if I didn’t take the chance to get away it wouldn’t feel like the year ever ended, which means I’d never get a chance to refresh. I found it a bit hard the first few times as I often travelled by myself but in fact that forced me to make some great friends from all over the world who I’ve then spent the last few years visiting and travelling with. One of my best mates lives in New York so I’ve spent a few off-seasons with him. Another one lives in Mexico City, and another in Colombia so I’ve not got no shortage of couches to sleep on in some pretty cool places.

6. Where and when was your first trip overseas?

My first trip overseas was to Singapore and Malaysia when I was 12. We went to visit some of our family who were living there at the time. I remember complaining to my parents a lot about having to eat weird food in dirty restaurants on the side of the street. Now I live for that when I travel, the weirder and dirtier the better. My first solo trip was in 2005 with a mate from school, we backpacked in Europe for a month. It was great fun.

7. Top three places you’ve visited around the world

* Colombia — whitewater rafting in the mountains around San Gil, and surfing at Costeno beach on the Caribbean coast.

* Zanzibar (Tanzania) — I came here to relax after climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. White sandy beaches, pristine water. Ended up hanging around and doing my Open Water scuba diving certificate.

* Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina — a mate and I had hired a car to drive down the Mediterranean coast of Croatia and decided last minute to do a day trip into Bosnia. We randomly ended up in an old town, Mostar, which had been a focal point of tension and blood shed during the Yugoslavian war in the 90’s. We were befriended by a local guy who gave us a personal tour of the town and told some pretty hectic stories of what happened there. He’d also been shot by a sniper. Eye opening.

8. Funniest travel story?

Last year when I was in San Gil in Colombia I went out one afternoon for a run with a mate who lives there. We somehow ended up at the local show grounds where they were holding what could only be described as their version of the Melbourne Show. We overheard they were going to grease up a pig and let it loose in the bull ring and whoever caught it would get to keep it. I figured it would be good training so we joined in with some eager locals. Turned out the pig was a dud (or too smart!) and wouldn’t run, which was disappointing. The locals found some other fun by greasing up a 15 foot wooden pole and seeing who could claim the cash nailed at the top. Opted out of that one — not a fan of splinters.

9. Where would you not go back to?

Johannesburg, South Africa. I wasn’t there long but they wouldn’t let me leave the hotel to go for a run, they said it wasn’t safe even though it was 11 o’clock in the morning! There was also just an air of tension in that city that I couldn’t put my finger on, it was as if everybody hated each other. The rest of South Africa was awesome though.

10. Most treasured possession from one of your trips?

"That's not a knife.. THIS is a knife".. #simpsonsclassics #knifefromjapan #souvenir

I’m not really one for souvenirs but I bought a pretty cool handmade chef’s knife in Tokyo.

The blade is fully textured and the handle is made from some sort of animal bone. The thing could cut your finger off too, my girlfriend isn’t allowed to use it after nearly losing hers a few times!

This article originally appeared in the Herald Sun. To view this article click here