AFL: Back on the box
AFL great Matthew Pavlich is swapping the Sherrin for a microphone, writes COLIN VICKERY
MATTHEW Pavlich jokes he doesn’t have time to play AFL football – he’s too busy preparing for his new TV gig, running two businesses and looking after his three kids.
One of four new signings to Fox Footy’s commentary team, the former Fremantle Dockers favourite will be back in the game in kind – recruited along with retired Swans and Demons coach Paul Roos and former players Brian Lake (Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn) and Nick Dal Santo (St Kilda and North Melbourne).
Having prepared well for life beyond his playing days, the 35-year-old also boasts two university degrees, as well as investments in sports events and stadium wi-fi companies.
If that sounds exhausting, ‘Pav’ has been on dad duty for the past six months, pulling his weight with wife Lauren as they raise three children under the age of four: daughter Harper, 4, and sons Jack, 2, and William, six months.
“We welcomed William into the world just a couple of weeks after my last game,” Pavlich, who hung up his boots last August, says.
“I gave strong consideration to retiring at the end of 2015 but I thought I had a little left to give.
“Now, having three children under four means it has been very busy at our house. It has been really nice to spend time with the family. From the day dot I was very keen to be hands-on and as much help as I can be. Times have changed culturally and the expectation on fathers has certainly risen. I’ve been able to support Lauren. It would have been very challenging for her if I had been training.”
While his comments should win him more female fans, as one of the AFL’s most respected players he’s also the perfect person to give Fox Footy viewers an insight into the modern game. After clocking up 353 games, including the Fremantle captaincy from 2007 to 2015, the 17-year career veteran was also a six-time All Australian and his club’s leading goalkicker eight times.
Now, as Fox Footy’s Perthbased commentator, he will provide special comments for Dockers and West Coast Eagles home matches.
And just like his playing days, the start of the new season has him nervous, not least because of the new TV challenge ahead of him.
“I think when I see the teams run out it [retirement] might hit me – the emotion and competitive juices will kick in,” he says.
But even before he takes a place in the commentary box, speculation has already begun as to whether he will stay in TV for long, or head down a different path as a senior coach.
For now, Fox Footy’s new recruit says the coaching clipboard can wait.
“I don’t really harbour strong ambitions to be a senior AFL coach so at this point in time that’s not on the agenda,” Pavlich says.
“In a lot of ways you are selfish as an athlete. You make a lot of choices for the betterment of you rather than your family. I’ve always wanted to be a father and having children has taught me lessons about balance in life and what’s important.
“I’ve never been the most patient person but having children has taught me that not everything goes to plan.
“Starting a family of our own and the role that they play in assisting my transition [to life after football] has been really important.”
AFL: WEST COAST V MELBOURNE
THURSDAY, 8.30PM, FOX FOOTY Matthew Pavlich will make his commentary debut during the JLT Community Series match at Perth’s Domain Stadium