Essendon’s Kyle Hardingham was one of nine AFL players involved in the Sporting Trades Skills program in 2013, gaining skills for a post-football career in carpentry.
Hardingham believes it’s important to prepare for the future, but is also finding his carpentry apprenticeship to be a valuable experience while still in the game.
“It just breaks up the week and gives me something else to talk about other than football” – Hardingham
“It gives me an out from footy, so I get up and go to work instead of just sitting at home doing nothing for my day off,” he says.
“For me personally, I look forward to going to work on that Wednesday or Thursday. It just breaks up the week and gives me something else to talk about other than football.”
In the past it’s been difficult for players to complete apprenticeships while simultaneously managing an AFL career, but Hardingham says that’s changing.
“I don’t find it difficult to juggle with my footy career, as long as I know what day I have off in advance.
“I think the hardest thing is trying to get the TAFE as well as the on-site training. You’ve only got that one day off a week and you’re trying to juggle TAFE as well. The best thing is that this year all my TAFE will be on-site, so I’ll be completing the TAFE requirements as well. That’ll make it a lot easier.”
Hardingham already has an apprenticeship under his belt – in vehicle body building, a qualification he completed before being drafted by the Bombers in 2009 – but knows that pathway isn’t for him.
“I completed that apprenticeship before I got drafted but pretty much never wanted to touch it again. It wasn’t until two years ago that I thought I wouldn’t mind starting carpentry, because it was something I always liked doing,” he explains.
At just 25 years of age it might be a few years until Hardingham hangs up the boots, but he’s well-prepared for his next career move.
“It’s something I aspire to when I finish footy – to have something there waiting for me to start up.”