At the 2017 AFLPA MVP Awards, a host of retiring legends penned a letter to their younger selves. Matthew Boyd’s career was formed the hard way and after winning best and fairest awards and All-Australian selections, his ultimate achievement came at the end of last season. He reflects on his journey, exclusively to AFLPlayers.com.au.
You probably won’t believe me when I tell you this but you’ve had a pretty decent AFL career.
All those people who are telling you that you’re too slow, can’t kick and not big enough to make it…they’re right! But what they don’t know about you, what they can’t see underneath all of that is your preparedness to work harder than most others to be the best you can be.
So as I sit here, writing you this letter, let me give you some advice… do with it what you like.
Enjoy the little wins along the way. It’s OK to feel good about your achievements as they happen. Be grateful to those around you and take some time with the people you love to reflect on those little successes.
They don’t happen as a result of luck. You didn’t just buy a lottery ticket and hope for the result to go your way. They happen because you have done the work, prepared yourself and invested the time and energy into your career. And don’t forget what those around you have sacrificed so you can pursue your dream. Celebrate with them!
Allow yourself to be proud in those moments. The time goes too quick to constantly move onto the next goal. Enjoy each moment and let them all add up to form the bigger picture that you can look back on in 16 years’ time.
Allow yourself to have fun along the way and don’t take yourself or the game too seriously — let the fans and the media do that for you. Remember why you started playing as a kid and how much happiness you got out of just kicking the footy with your mates in the street or at the school park. You’re now one of the lucky few who will get to call this your job so don’t take it for granted.
I’m not going to lie to you, there are times ahead of you when you’ll question if it’s all worth it. Trust me when I tell you that it is. Mark this date in your diary — Saturday, 1st October 2016. This will make more sense on the day. But my advice is to soak it all up… every bit!
Think about all the hard stuff, all the pain and suffering, both physical and emotional. It will be washed away in a moment of pure happiness.
And when it’s all said and done, and you’ve played your last game for the club that you will quickly fall in love with, I guarantee it will be so much more satisfying because you have given it everything you had.
But now for me, it’s come to an end and I walk away with lifelong friends and amazing memories. It’s time for you to create your own.
All the best,
P.S: For god’s sake get a bloody haircut! You look ridiculous. In the words of former teammate and great man, Ben Harrison,“rock stars don’t have blonde tips”!