Homesickness, disappointment, injuries, getting dropped.
Laughs, finals footy, milestones, leadership, a fresh start.
Throughout 10 years in the system, Dylan Addison experienced most of the highs and lows an AFL career has to offer.
Now, he’s looking to use those experiences to help shape the lives of the next generation of young stars in Western Sydney – the region where he grew up. The rugged Bulldog-turned-Giant has recently taken on the role of Welfare Manager at the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
“It’s not something I had a childhood dream of doing, but the idea’s grown on me over the last 12 months,” Addison told aflplayers.com.au.
— GWS GIANTS (@GWSGIANTS) November 8, 2015
It’s been a couple of months since the AFL dream came to an end.
Since then, he’s also finished his tertiary studies. Throughout his 10-year AFL career, Addison chipped away at a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Human Movement. He completed his final exam a fortnight ago.
“Doing the degree, I found myself interested in the physio/rehab side. I see there’s a link between that and the welfare role at the Giants, so it’s a great opportunity for personal development.”
As part of his role, the 28-year-old will teach the Giants life-skills like managing money, cooking and cleaning. But the biggest challenge will be teaching them how to cope with the ongoing demands and challenges that come with an AFL career.
“Hopefully I can help some of the young guys, and understand some of the situations they’ll find themselves in,” Addison said.
“Trying to keep these guys in a positive mindset for as long as possible will give them the best chance of having a successful career, and the Giants the best chance of being successful.”
Addison is one of a handful of ex-Bulldogs shaping a club still in its infancy.
Coach Leon Cameron spent 10 years playing for the Bulldogs in the 90s before working at the club as an assistant coach from 2004 to 2010. Co-captain Callan Ward played 60 games in red, white and blue before defecting to Greater Western Sydney at the end of 2011, while former Bulldogs captain Ryan Griffen famously followed in Ward’s footsteps, joining the Giants ahead of the 2015 season.
“two things that we all bring are competitiveness and honesty. If you’ve got those characteristics, as a footballer or in life in general, that’s a pretty good start” – Dylan Addison
Addison reflected that this quartet, all of whom played a part in the Bulldogs’ run of three consecutive preliminary final appearances between 2008 and 2010, shares a number of core values.
“Footy’s a pretty simple game. Sometimes that can get lost on players and coaches. But two things that we all bring are competitiveness and honesty. If you’ve got those two characteristics, as a footballer or in life in general, that’s a pretty good start.
Addison is encouraged by the competitiveness of the Giants’ playing group collectively – he says they’re “serious about it doing what’s required to move up the ladder” – and enjoys having honest relationships and conversations with the players individually.
Even though, as a welfare manager, he’ll be expected to guide his former teammates off-field, Addison is comfortable speaking honestly about his own pathway.
“It wasn’t a career that I saw on the radar, but having a career of 10 years in the AFL and having this opportunity coming up, I wanted to stay involved in the AFL system. Who knows how long I’ll be in this role or what opportunities will come from this?
“I want to impart that on the players: you never know what opportunities are out there. You’ve just got to keep putting your hand up and putting your best foot forward because you never know what opportunities will come up in the future.”