In 2013 Melbourne’s Neville Jetta spent more than 160 hours mentoring young Indigenous people, as part of the AFL Players’ Association’s Next Goal program.
Inspired by his own mentor, now-retired teammate Aaron Davey, Jetta is passionate about influencing the lives of young people.
Speaking with Indigenous people aged 13-17 at the Koran Gamadji Institute (KGI) in Richmond once or twice a week, Jetta had an important message to share.
“I just tried to get across to them how important school and their education is, and also [the value of] making sacrifices along the way to get where you want to get,” Jetta says.
“In my younger days it was not going out, and concentrating on my footy – it has got me where I am today.”
While Jetta made an impression on each of the young people he spoke with, he also found working at the KGI to be a valuable and rewarding experience from a personal perspective.
Being part of the Laguntas Program – which focuses on supporting talented young Indigenous footballers who are looking for pathways into the AIS, VFL or AFL – was a particularly personal experience for Jetta.
“The thing that impacted me the most was working with the Laguntas Program. Sitting down and speaking with them and watching how they go about it, I could see myself in them as they come through the ranks and try to get the best out of themselves.”
While Jetta will be hoping to spend more time on the football field in 2014, having been delisted and then given a second chance at Melbourne via the rookie list, he is well-prepared to continue working as a mentor. It’s something he’s likely to pursue when his
football career comes to an end – whenever that may be.