In the lead up to the Madden Medal presentation next Thursday, the retiring class of 2019 have put together a letter to their younger selves detailing the lessons they learned during their careers. Over the next week, aflplayers.com.au will publish the letters of these players to help celebrate their achievements. Here is Sydney Swans champion Kieren Jack’s letter to his 18-year-old self.
Right now, your dream seems lost.
You’re sitting there in front of the computer without a club.
As the last name of the draft was called out, you’re thinking, ‘This isn’t what was meant to happen, I worked too hard for this.’
But don’t worry.
Because tomorrow you’ll get a phone call from (Swans head of recruiting) Rick Barham.
On Monday, you’ll start training with the Swans.
And in two weeks you’ll get rookie-listed by the club.
You’ll share a changeroom with the guys you watched win a Grand Final only a couple of months ago.
You’ll become a blood.
One day, you’ll have a list of achievements etched on your locker.
And yes, they do eventually move on from the red high school style tin lockers, so don’t get too attached.
After 14 years, you’ll head into the changerooms for one last time to have a beer with your teammates. You’ll be bloody proud of everything you achieved on the field.
I know this might be a bit hard to believe right now, but it’s the things that aren’t written on the locker that will mean the most to you.
And this is so important to know, because even if you weren’t to get that phone call from Ricky Barham tomorrow, you wouldn’t be any less of a person.
You’re lucky enough to play alongside your brother (Brandon) and become best mates with him (yes that little kid you throw around like a rag doll every day will play alongside you).
One day you’ll hit the books and prove to yourself that you do have a brain after all (maybe start a bit earlier, trust me, you’ve got the time for it), and eventually you’ll meet the love of your life who brings you to tears as she walks down the aisle.
It’s so easy to get lost in the noise of football.
It’s so easy to think that being the hardest running two-way midfielder is all you’ll need to be happy.
But you’ll play bad games. You’ll have setbacks. You’ll have doubts.
The sense of doubt you feel now comes and goes as you endure the ups and downs of a football career.
What is etched on your footy tombstone, and your locker at the club, is something to be proud of and don’t take that for granted.
Savour every hallway conversation, every lap, every rep in the gym surrounded by your mates, because it goes in the blink of an eye.
But remember, there’s a lot more to life than a footy tombstone.