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Thread: Life after the last game a lonely place

  1. #1
    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Life after the last game a lonely place

    Liam Croy
    Saturday, February 25, 2017 12:40AM


    It was like a light switch. He went to sleep as Matt Fuller the rugby league player and woke up as just Matt Fuller.

    There was no more off-season training, no banter with his teammates and no reason to wear a number on his back.

    The former Western Reds captain had spent a decade playing at the professional level but the sport had defined him for longer than that.

    For a man who had a knack for breaking bone-jarring tackles, retirement put him down with shocking ease.

    “It’s a horrible feeling,” Fuller said. “Everything you wanted to do and believed in as a sportsman gets switched off.

    “Most professional athletes have been playing their sport since they were a little kid. It’s all you know.”

    Fuller was in a dark place for the next few years, drinking too much as he struggled with a loss of self-worth and identity.

    As the product of a troubled upbringing and poor education, his case was particularly bleak. Fuller was kicked out of home at 14 and only learnt to read and write at 25.

    But it is an issue that has made headlines too often: what happens to elite athletes after the final siren?

    “It’s a horrible feeling. Everything you wanted to do and believed in as a sportsman gets switched off.”

    The death of former Wallabies lock Dan Vickerman at his family home on Sunday dragged the conversation back into the spotlight.

    Vickerman, 37, had spoken to his friends and family about the difficulties he was having after leaving rugby union. Indeed, he was scheduled to speak on that exact topic at an athlete-led summit in Sydney today.

    Vickerman was to be one of the key speakers at the summit hosted by Crossing the Line, an Australian organisation set up to help athletes with their transition to retirement.

    Olympic champion Grant Hackett and Brownlow medallist Ben Cousins have also been in the news this week, two fallen stars who seemed to have the world at their feet.

    The identity crisis faced by some retired athletes has been the subject of increased scrutiny by researchers and sports organisations.

    Perth academic Bob Grove, emeritus professor at the University of WA, has spent 30 years specialising in sport and exercise psychology. Professor Grove is dealing with his own retirement by reconnecting with a past passion — baseball coaching.

    He said elite athletes faced a far more intense transition because of the short-lived, high energy and public nature of their careers.

    It’s a battle Fuller knows intimately and one he wanted to speak about. Now a successful gym owner, he built himself back up with the help of his wife, Naomi, but it saddens him to see others hurting.

    Fuller also had help from the people in charge of his last rugby club — the Sydney Bulls.

    They took money from his salary and funnelled it into a personal training course, a qualification that came in very handy when he got his life on track.

    West Coast Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett is at the helm of what he says is now the AFL’s most proactive club for player welfare. He has seen several past players struggle with what is often referred to as “relevance deprivation”.

    “The best thing we can do as administrators and coaches is try to prepare our athletes for the end,” Mr Nisbett said. “When you get to the veteran stage and hit your 30s, if you haven’t prepared for life after footy with a course or a specific goal, you can have problems.”

    https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/life-...-ng-b88394873z

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Saw The Sheep a few weeks back. He looks fit enough to go around again. Ex Dogs and Reds - what a bloke.

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    "The main difference between playing League and Union is that now I get my hangovers on Monday instead of Sunday - Tom David

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    I caught up with him on Sunday and he is doing the 24 hour Spin Session in his gym this year for Telethon with a heap of big end corporates. He had just been on a spur of the moment 100km bike ride up to Kalamunda and back.

    He certainly is a champion bloke who despite a tough start in life has come good, not all of us from Campbelltown are lost causes!

    Watch out for his boy Lachy in a few years, a very talented soccer player with Inglewood and has been selected to go to (I think it is Barceleona) later this year for Junior Academy. A chip off the old block that's for sure

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    Interesting interview with Pat McCutcheon after the Olympics


    Part 1 - http://www.cnru.com.au/news-details.php?nid=1138


    Part 2 - http://www.cnru.com.au/news-details.php?nid=1139

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