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Stevie J’s home away from home

One of the most mercurial players in the game, Geelong’s Steve Johnson often finds a way to pull a rabbit out of the hat when his side needs it most. The way he approaches golf, one of his greatest passions outside footy, says a lot about his mentality to sport and life in general.

“You can hit a bad shot and then you just forget about that, because it’s all about the next one,” Johnson says.

While he’s often moving sideways – sidestepping opposition players and snapping kicks around his body – Johnson is always looking forward, anticipating what’s coming next.

His ability to keep things in perspective, and find ways to release the anxieties that arise from the pressures of an AFL career, is critical to both his performance and his wellbeing. One of his greatest sanctuaries is a golf course; there are few places he feels more at home.

“As I drive up to the gates it’s like a massive release for me,” Johnson explains.

“No matter what’s happening in the footy world – whether people are bagging me in the media or whatever it might be – I seem to be able to just forget about it when I’m out here and just play golf and enjoy the three or four hours that it takes away from your life.”

Johnson is an ambassador for Ladder, the AFL Players’ official charity, and knows the importance of having a place to feel at home. He wants all young people to have that same opportunity. Sadly, on any given night in Australia more than 100,000 Australians have nowhere to call home. Of those, more than half are under 25.

“We get to live our dreams day in day out, but there are so many people who don’t have that opportunity,” Johnson says.

“My role as an ambassador is just to help raise awareness. As players we’re trying to help young people find a home of their own too.”

@AFLPlayers are proud to support Ladder; every time a player runs out onto the field for their team, they donate $25 to Ladder. As a group, players are committed to helping young people who have been homeless find a place to call home.

Join the players in supporting Ladder by donating here. Together we can help end youth homelessness.

Johnson’s story appeared on Channel 7’s @home series, which will appear on Saturday night footy each week for the remainder of the season. The stories of other players to have appeared as part of the series include Collingwood’s Ben Kennedy and Melbourne’s Lynden Dunn.