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An open letter to current players

Murray Browne has recently joined the AFL Players’ Board in the role of Past Player Director. He played 53 games – 47 for Collingwood and six for Fitzroy – between 1981 and 1986, and is the father of Essendon player Alex Browne.

Dear Current Player,

Being an AFL footballer gives you the opportunity to have a fantastic life after footy but it’s difficult for you to focus on that now.

You are so immersed in what you’re doing and rightly so, but I ask you to lift up your vision for a moment.

I joined Collingwood at age 18 and spent six years in the AFL (then VFL). I was an average player but loved being at an AFL Club, playing on the big stage and having so many great team mates. Everything off the field was taken care of and it seemed like the good life would last forever.

But at age 24 I was sacked and I spent the next five years in emotional turmoil as I felt a complete failure.

‘make footy part of your life, don’t make life part of your footy.’

From the sidelines I watched some of my mates win the 1990 AFL premiership. I was only 27 years of age, but well and truly forgotten. Depression set in as less people wanted to know me and I knew I was never going to experience the exhilaration of the big stage again.

But at age 30 I decided to do something about it.

I saved $55,000 from my playing days and paid cash for a small unit in Ivanhoe, and this got me started in the property market.

I committed to family life, had two children and got involved in everything they did as they grew up.

I began my own Financial Planning Practice; the challenge of building a business and winning clients got my competitive juices flowing again.

During my playing days I made sure I embraced the coterie groups, club sponsors and supporters so I was able to go back to them and use them to help grow my business.

And I stayed involved in footy by coaching locally, because it felt great to help others and give something back to the game.

Today, at age 51, I have a happy and healthy family, loyal friends from different areas and cultures, a challenging business and I travel overseas each year.

My role as the Past Player Director of the AFL Players’ Association keeps me involved in our great game, and it’s so emotionally rewarding to help fellow Past Players who are struggling in areas of their lives.

My message to you is simple.

Embrace your time in the AFL now, build your contacts, save your well-earned money and get involved in as much community work as you can so that you help others.

This will help you transition out of our game as a balanced person and give you the best opportunity to use this time to build yourself a great life.

Playing AFL footy is fantastic but the greatest things we can have in our lives are our health, our family, our friends and our happiness.

So make footy part of your life, don’t make life part of your footy.

Your sincerely,