‘You want to be playing the game because you love it and it brings you joy’

words by AFL Player, Wednesday 4 August 2021

Words by TYF ambassador Neville Jetta

Growing up in Bunbury, a port city in WA, I would watch the local footy on weekends.

My first memory of watching the local sides was watching my cousins play in the under-10s competition. My first cousin, Lewis Jetta (former Sydney and West Coast player), was there and I can recall watching him play and crying to my parents that I wanted to join him.

I threw a tantrum until my Dad purchased me some footy boots and the next weekend I was running out there with my cousins and friends.

The footy club in Bunbury, and for many other local communities, has always been a safe space to visit, particularly for the Indigenous community.

The club is central to the community and an outlet where Indigenous kids could participate and connect with their friends and families through sport.

Being part of the football club gives you the chance to be fit and active, play a team sport and connect with your friends whilst having fun.

Football has always been important to the people of WA and growing up we watched a lot of our role models play WAFL and AFL. It was always quite competitive at the local club because people wanted to push themselves to continue striving for more in their football careers.

There were a few players from our area who progressed to high-level competition, which was inspiring to watch.

One memory that stands out from when I was playing football in Bunbury was the day I was able to reunite and play with all of my cousins.

I had been playing WAFL in Perth that morning before I got the call up that the boys needed a player. I drove down to Bunbury and was lucky I had my gear in the car before jumping straight on the field.

It was a special experience and something I’m grateful to have been able to do.

Now, it’s my children’s turn to start playing community sport.

We live close to the Greensborough Football Club and my son, Kyree, recently joined their Auskick program.

He was eager to become involved and it’s been pleasing to see Kyree and my daughter Nalani get involved.

They’re both down there enjoying their footy and developing a passion for playing sport and being part of a team environment.

I felt the same when I was growing up and coming through the ranks.

For Nalani, it’s important for her to be able to embrace the opportunity girls now receive to play football all the way through. With the AFLW competition in full swing there are so many great role models for her to aspire to.

Being part of the club is also a great way for us as a family more broadly to connect with the community. The Greensborough Football Club are even asking for my signature once I retire!

As you’re coming through the ranks and footy starts to become more serious, it can be easy to lose sight of why you started playing the game.

Something I try to share with everyone is that you always want to keep in the back of your mind why you started playing.

It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you want to be playing the game because you love it and it brings you joy.

The best thing about playing football is running out with 21 of your teammates and friends beside you each week. Even when times are challenging, being able to work together as a team towards success is an incredibly rewarding feeling.