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Q&A – Jarman Impey

Hawthorn is often applauded for their masterful recruiting of big-name players but defender Jarman Impey is flying under the radar. The 23-year-old spoke to about his season so far, his passion for fast things and his ambassador role with The Line. 

We’re already a third of the way into the season. How have you found it from a team perspective and individually?

Overall, I think we had a really good pre-season and the only really serious injury we had was Tom Mitchell unfortunately but the group was confident with a number of off-season recruits like Chad Wingard and Tom Scully coming in. We had a really good feeling and we came into the season ready and right to go. There has been a couple of games where we probably thought we could have won, which would have had us sitting a bit higher on the ladder but it’s a long season so we’re just chipping away. The comradery around the group is awesome and it’s good to be playing each week.

Personally, you’ve had an impressive start to the season. What are you putting your improved form down to?

I think just coming into a new club you want to play whatever role is given to you. I’m playing back and my first year was really about trying to get comfortable playing with a new group and trying not to let them down because I’m a person that puts pressure on myself with that. This year, I’ve felt a little bit more comfortable being in my second season with the Hawks, and I’m feeling more and more comfortable each week I play. As with getting a little bit older and a little bit wiser, I just want to play well and be able to lead by example. I’m hoping that’s starting to come out in the way I play and it can be on a really consistent basis. It’s been really good playing down back and I’m playing to win and, mentally, I think that’s been able to give me a little bit more of an edge this season.

Being more of a senior player now and, with a few of areas of Hawthorn’s list being quite young, have you taken on a little bit more of a mentoring role?

We have a little group called ‘the backbone’ group. It’s made up of the middle-age group, who aren’t too young and not quite in the leadership group but have still been around the system for a while. That gave me more confidence by being in a group where I can have those conversations with the other members about what’s happening. We do have a bit of a leadership role somewhat in helping the leaders come together. Having that bit of a badge, I suppose, definitely gives you an added layer of confidence to your game.

You were really open throughout your trade in saying your move back to Victoria was for family reasons. How has it been for you being back home and that little bit closer to your family?

Coming back to Victoria I wanted to put a huge focus on my football because it’s what I enjoy most but having my family here and that family environment, it makes you at ease when there are bigger stresses happening in the world. I definitely think it’s made feel more comfortable playing as well.

What’s it been like to have the opportunity to play senior football with Shaun Burgoyne? I recall you saying he was a big inspiration of yours…

Yeah, I can’t speak highly enough of Shaun. He’s obviously from Port Adelaide too, so there’s that connection there. He’s a great role model on and off the field. I spend a lot of time with him and his family. I often go around to his house and spend some time with his kids. He’s someone who I definitely look up to and is someone who inspires me being a leader around the club on field and culturally. It’s always good to hang around with him – he’s still like a little kid! He’s so bubbly and it’s probably part of the reason he’s been playing football for so long. He just has fun and he comes here to the club and enjoys it but also works hard when he has to.

What’s been some advice that he’s given you that you’ve been able to take into your own life?

Probably enjoy yourself. I think that comes with life too because if you aren’t enjoying it then you need to find something to do that you are enjoying. You’ve only got one life and one opportunity at it. Shaun has a lot of advice, so I’m always making sure I’m listening to his words and what he has to say. He’s been there and done it and understands how to be successful. I’m making sure I’m always enjoying myself.

You mentioned how Shaun is originally from Port Adelaide and now Chad Wingard is with you at the Hawks too. You’re starting to form quite the contingent.

Yeah, we are! Being back with Chad is awesome. The three of us have a really good connection. He’s really bubbly as well and we’re always joking around like little kids. Whenever we’re stressed out or there are challenges around the club, we try and bounce off one another. After games, for example, if collectively we’ve had a bad game or one of us hasn’t performed as well as we’d hoped, we have a chat and just make sure we’re supporting each other. I do know what he can bring to the team as well, which is really exciting. Having people like Chad and Shaun here and these great players around me, I feel like we can have a really good chance at playing the best footy we can. I’m really happy to have him here.

Chad was known to be a really big driver in celebrating and recognising his Indigenous heritage at Port Adelaide. Has he brought that to Hawthorn as well?

I think it’s really pushed the system here in terms of the Indigenous space. He loves giving back to the community and is a really strong leader as well. If he has something to say, he will say it and he’s been really big with the cultural stuff and mentioning things we aren’t doing or things we can do better. Shaun is the same. If he feels he needs to say something, he will and he won’t shy away from that. They’re both really motivated and passionate in their cultural recognition so to have them both here at Hawthorn is an asset.

With Indigenous Round coming up, what does it mean for you to be able to recognise, and pay respect to, your own heritage during this game?

It’s important for us to have an Indigenous Round and to be able to play and represent the brothers and sisters around the nation. We’re excited and have already been looking at designing our jumpers for next year and into the future. We can’t wait and it’s against Port Adelaide too, which will be Chad’s first game against them. I asked him if he was nervous but he brings it on himself and can’t wait to play them, whereas I was a little shyer about it. I can’t wait for that game. It’ll be a great environment and I’m sure there will be a little bit of lip here and there but it’s something that he thrives off. It’ll be a special round and I have no doubt we will see some special things.

You recently took on an ambassador role with Our Watch’s The Line. Why were you passionate about taking on that role?

I’m really passionate about sending the right messages and trying to use my position to be a leader for the younger generation. I felt privileged to be asked to be an ambassador. I’m close with the AFLPA’s Indigenous and Multicultural Relationship Manager Leon Egan, so when he threw up my name as a suggested ambassador because he felt that I would be a good fit, I was honoured.

At Indigenous camp earlier this year you presented to the playing group on what The Line does and how we can send the right messages as a collective. What was it like to present in front of your peers?

It was very powerful. I was actually really nervous to present. I think as a nation we need to keep getting better when it comes to this sort of stuff and our actions. Having the opportunity at Indigenous camp to present and have everyone jump on board and lead the way by example was really powerful. For the boys to jump on with that and be able to use our social following to make a change was really important. I have no doubt they’re all ready to get behind our campaigns and use their following to support the message.

You’re into your hobby cars and built one with your late father. Is that still a big part of your life away from Hawthorn?

Yeah, that’s a huge stress relief for me. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a hobby or something that you enjoy outside of football. It’s a huge privilege to play and it’s something I love but there is a whole lot of structures to the game now and it’s a full-time job. I’ve got a hobby with fast things and cars is one of them. Growing up in the country environment where we had boats, cars and bikes, we were always outdoors doing things. I’ve always had that there. I’m working at a mechanic once a week. On my weekends when I can I’ll go to car shows or ride my Harley. I’m quite lucky to have access to that and be able to do those things because it helps me get away from the other stresses that are in my life.

So, you’re a big motorbike rider as well then?

Yeah, I ride dirt bikes and my Harley when I can. When I first came to the club I told Clarko that I had a Harley and he scratched his head. I explained to him that I’d ridden bikes since I was a little boy and that when I was at Port Adelaide there were a group of us who rode bikes. He was okay with it in the end but understandably he was worried that I was going to hurt myself. I was open and honest with him and said that it was an outlet for me and they were really understanding. I always make sure I’m smart about it. It certainly helps that our captain, Ben Stratton, has a bike too because if it’s good enough for him then I’m okay. I was fist-pumping because it meant I wasn’t alone (laughs).

What does it mean to be able to have your passion also act as a connection with your dad?

It brings back so many really good memories that we shared. Every time I jump in the car there is just a rush and the feeling of driving the car or cruising around, which is something we would do, is indescribable. It’s a really special feeling and keeps you really grounded. When I jump on the bike it feels like all my worries in the world go away. It’s a feeling that I can’t even explain but I feel at one with myself and really grounded. It’s a pretty cool thing to experience and a great feeling.

Looking forward to the remainder of season 2019, what are you wanting to achieve?

It’s really about trying to be focussed and play consistent footy. It’s also about surrounding myself with a good environment, whether that’s off the field or on the field. Also, keeping mentally healthy. There are a lot of pressures that exist in the AFL world. It’s about being mentally and physically healthy and doing my best to be consistent and go about my business. If I can play my role for the team, hopefully I’ll be able to find myself in good moments with the team.

That’s all from me. Thank you for your time and good luck with the rest of the season, Jarman.

No worries, thanks Kavisha.