AFL: Back on the box

AFL great Matthew Pavlich is swap­ping the Sherrin for a mi­cro­phone, writes COLIN VICKERY

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

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

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