In the wake of the Madden Medal presentation on 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 former Lion and Sun Michael Rischitelli’s letter to his 17-year-old self.
After 243 career games your love for football will never waiver.
From when you were young, until you retire, football will still give you that buzz.
Like when your parents would drive you to training, you’ll continue to look forward to those moments throughout your career.
When your dream is realised and Brisbane select you with Pick No. 61 in the 2003 Draft, you’ll feel elated.
It will be challenging to move interstate as a 17-year-old, but you won’t be bothered by where you went. After all, you just wanted to play AFL football.
When you walk into Brisbane for the first time you won’t really feel like you belong but that’s OK, it’s a normal feeling when you get drafted.
You’ll rock up to the club, with premiership-winning greats around you. They’ll be considered one of the best teams to have ever played the game.
It’ll be difficult to try to get yourself to their level, but it will be good for your development.
Just remember, if you want to get to where they are, there will be work ahead.
The months and years will go by quickly and you’ll work so hard that you might feel it’s not working, but you need to keep grinding away.
The day that you stop or give up on yourself is the day you’re buying time – you’re paused.
The chats you’ll have with Nigel Lappin and Simon Black about how to have longevity in the game will hold you in good stead.
You might not understand the self-belief or how hard you have to push yourself when you’re younger, but make sure you utilise the people and resources around you who have been through it.
Remember to work hard every single session – whether that’s the gym, skills or your running sessions.
A lot of the work is when no one sees it. Your ability to do the same thing when no one is watching is what will set you apart and create those elite standards.
You’ll miss out on important moments in your family and friends’ lives when you’re playing football.
Whether it’s weddings, birthdays or milestone events, you won’t be there.
It’s part of football and that’s what happens because the reality is you’re chasing your dream and there are going to be things that you miss out on.
It’s how you handle it and what you do about it.
Remember, there are pros and cons to everything that you do in life, and it’s about how you frame those moments.
Despite missing those moments, football will provide you with other great opportunities.
It will take you places you probably would never have been able to go – overseas trips, community camps to Papua New Guinea and China.
One of the things I would say is be a bit more selfish and try not to say, ‘Yes, yes, yes’ to everything because, in reality, it’s OK to say no or let others know you have another important priority.
When you’re younger you’ll want to do everything and so you don’t think about that, but when you become older that becomes a big part of your thinking. People begin to understand and respect that as you get older.
Having a wife and two children will be amazing for you and help to become a good distraction from the grind of football. Your family will be a blessing and provide you good balance.
Midway through your career, you will become the talking point of one of Brisbane’s biggest trades.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
At the time, you won’t feel ready to leave and although the club will be thinking about what is in their best interests, make sure you worry about yourself as well.
If you don’t, no one will.
When the time is right, you’ll make the decision to move to the newly-formed Gold Coast Suns.
You’ll be part of starting something completely new and fresh and you’ll remain a part of that forever.
At the time, you need a change and that decision you made to move to the Gold Coast will be one you’re proud of.
It’s a beautiful part of the world and your kids will have the chance to grow up there.
Be proud of what you achieved.
As a competitor, you’ll have wanted to do and achieve more, but what you did achieve is something great.
Be happy with the effort you’ll constantly and consistently give.
There will be memories, training sessions and moments that you look back on and think, ‘How did I get through them?’
It’s amazing what the body can do and you should be proud of what yours achieved.