Are careers outside football are a thing of the past or an ever-present reality? Many believe that rugby league is a full time job and the players get paid accordingly. This is a deep contrast to the games history where players where sometimes poverty stricken and played football during the week and attended to labouring jobs after the game. But is this type of footballer still present today? Or are all the first grade players playing our game today just pretty boys?
I like the fact that a lot of young players coming through have been trained or are being trained in a particular profession to support life after football. Kurt and Matt Gidley for example are both fully qualified butchers. Some of the younger players are also attending university, such as Craig Wing, who is receiving a scholarship from the University of New South Wales.
Players should also think about this for themselves and for their families. They can't play football forever and not all players can become coaches and part of the management of a team when they retire, therefore careers after football is imperative. I have also noticed that a lot of retired players are going to university, which is a great sign that they want to pursue a better career after football.
Last year the Knights management sent the team to TAFE to do a computer course. I believe that this is great for the players, as it gives them more experience in other arenas. Of course the entire team passed. Naturally the younger players passed just that bit better. The players also felt better for doing it as they know that they will need it to live in this society that is basically run by computers.
With regards to football players pursuing career while playing football, with their training and playing, meeting people and media appearances, I understand how hard it could be to work. This type of commitment was not present previously. Some players have been forced to drop university. Fortunately, they plan to pick it up after they retire. For example, Michael Vella aspired to become a doctor; however, he gave that up to play football.
But what about Premier League or fringe players that are not earning the big bucks of their first grade counterparts. Take for example two Penrith players. Shannon Donnato, the Penrith first division hooker, is currently pursuing a career in Public Relations and is also working with the clubs juniors in the development, as well as running a charity, all this as well as sustaining his consistent performances on the field in premier league. Another example is Joe Galuvao. When Joe came to Australia to play for Penrith, he was destined to be a premier league player. He became a labourer and went to work five days a week while playing football. He is now one of the powerhouses of our game and has since stopped the labouring.
There is a responsibility for the players when they commit to a team, their coaches, team mates, and fans. It is beyond comprehension how difficult it must be for players sustain this and then even contemplate having another job, yet some of the higher profile players do.
But what about the superstars of our game who are ambassadors on the field and have proven to be ambassadors off the field as well. E.G. Lance Thompson. For the past 10 years, Lance has coached several teams of the Hurstville United club, proving an inspiration when he is on and also off the field, coaching and making the youth aspire to be where he is today. The way Lance does this along with his football career is admirable. Another player is Scott Sattler. Scott has proven to be very effective the junior players at Penrith, teaching them the many the skills needed to become great players, mentoring players such as rising stars Luke Rooney and Luke Lewis in their rise to the top grade.
Although the days of footballers pursuing hard labour on the side of playing may be over, there is no doubt that football players today have, at some stage needed employment to sustain their livelihood. Current players like Joe Galuvao, Lance Thompson, Scott Sattler and Shannon Donnato all deserve our respect for the work they do within the community. The best thing is that these are only a few of the examples in our current society.
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