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It’s that time of year; the football season is well and truly underway. We journeyed to Victoria Park with former footballer Matt Thomas and a few of his friends to pay tribute to the game. Here, he chats about life after the game and just what makes football so special.
At what moment did you decide to you really wanted to play footy for a living?
I first knew I wanted to play footy when I was six or seven, which is when I started playing under 9s with my school friends. From then on it became a bit of a bug. I finished school at 17, went to university for a year and was drafted to Port Adelaide at 18 where I played for eight years.
I then came back to Melbourne and played for Richmond for two years and finished up in 2015. I was very lucky to finish my career back in Melbourne as it let me get grounded back into everyday life, friendship groups and helped me re-establish myself.
What exactly does football mean to you?
It’s an amazing thing to be able to combine passion with a job, I didn’t have to change my lifestyle at all. Now footy is a hobby, an escape from every day and a social activity. I love to catch up with friends who share the same love for the game.
What does life after football look like for you?
For me it was really important to stay involved in football because it’s a big part of who I am and I never want to lose that connection. I now own two gyms. This is really exciting for me because I’m passionate about helping people meet their fitness in a way that allows me to teach others about the things I learnt in the game.
What stadium were you always most excited to play at?
The MCG definitely. The first time you play there is incredible. As a kid my father took me to so many games, I always dreamed to be there one day myself, so when it finally happened it was somewhat of a surreal experience.
There's something special about the football season in Melbourne - what do you love most about it?
I love how each year it’s so unpredictable. There’s always a team that exceeds expectations and one that doesn’t meet expectations. I think the football culture of Melbourne is amazing, there’s so much hype that promotes a healthy lifestyle, role models, leadership and a great community base.
Watching the footy is notoriously cold, especially in Melbourne. What are your go-to pieces to keep warm in the stands?
I reckon it’s all about the layers to keep warm. My go-to is usually a waterproofrain jacket with a hoodie layered underneath to stay extra cosy.