Life has no guarantees: Nick Riewoldt


Nick Riewoldt. Source: Herald Sun


St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt is not always comfortable with fame in footy-mad Melbourne.

At 30 in most walks and life and most occupations you’re starting out, still trying to establish yourself and build a career, whereas in football you’re trying to hang on for dear life.

It’s the magical age where people start to look at you as a veteran close to retirement. It does do a little bit to your psyche. It makes you feel a lot older than you really are in real-life terms. Possibly that’s a good thing, increases your maturity level.

You learn so many great life lessons from football. 

The greatest lessons I’ll take out of it are about working in a team environment and around leadership. They are lessons which will stand me in really good stead for the next chapter of my life.

I learnt probably life’s not fair (after appearing in two Grand Finals in 2010, one draw, one loss). 

In 2010 I suffered an injury that I thought might end my career, snapped my hamstring tendon and missed four months in the middle of the season. Went on to play in the two Grand Finals. It taught me there are no guarantees in life. You can do all the right things and things just don’t go your way.

I grew up in Hobart and at nine moved to the Gold Coast.

As a nine-year-old there were beaches and there was a lot of excitement associated with that. I have fond memories of Tasmania. I’ve got a place in Tassie on the east coast. I haven’t been back to the Gold Coast in a personal or social sense for four years, but I’ll go to Tassie four or five times a year. We have Christmas there every year. Tassie is one of the great places in the world, I think.

As a young guy in Queensland playing football was quite unique.

None of my friends had any idea that I even played football. I woke up one day and told them I was moving to Melbourne to play professional football.

The wedding was great ( last year Riewoldt married Texan Catherine Heard).

It was in Waco, Texas. We had 95 Australians make the trip over. It exceeded my wildest expectations. You hear a lot of stories about southern hospitality – it’s all absolutely true. The way they embraced all of our guests and the show they put on was incredible.

Marriage gives you a real purpose.

You grow up, you’re a young guy, you play your footy, pretty much all the decisions you make really only have an impact on you. Getting married changes your purpose. All of a sudden you have two people to consider. And I’m sure it goes to a new level again once you have children.

Cath’s brought a lot of stability and a lot of joy and happiness.

We’ve got a wonderful relationship, we’re great friends. We met over there (while I was) on an end-of-season trip in the States. We stayed in touch and continued the friendship. She came out here for a few holidays and it cruised from there.

My cousin (Jack Riewoldt) plays for Richmond.

It’s really exciting for the family, particularly my grandparents who came over from Germany in the ’50s and now they’ve got two grandchildren running around playing in the AFL. It’s a wonderful story really. Once I finish it will give me a real interest to stay involved and keep following the game. I love watching Jack play well. Unfortunately he played too well against us the other week (Richmond beat St Kilda by 17 points in Round 2).

I’m towards the end of my career and I’m starting to plan. I’m doing a bit of media stuff, which interests me, and I wouldn’t mind staying involved in football in that respect.
Coaching and being involved in a football club life doesn’t really interest me at this stage. I can’t see myself coaching.

Fame is something I’ve really wrestled with at times.

At times I haven’t handled it well. The perceived intrusion into your life has not sat well with me at times. But as I’ve gotten older and more mature I’ve learnt to accept that. I know that people have a fascination with the game and I love that. I love the passion Victorians have for their football.

My mum will feel relief when I retire.

It’s a quality that all mothers have, that maternal instinct and care. Mum will be pretty relieved. She doesn’t watch a lot of the time. She goes to the game but I think she just puts something over her face. She gets pretty nervous in the crowd.

The ‘nude photo scandal’ (nude photographs of Riewoldt were posted on Facebook in 2011) was a chapter I’ve dealt with and prefer to not really think about or talk about.

I’ve learnt a few lessons out of it, I think. Some things are not always in your control, I guess, and you’ve just got to deal with them as best you can. It really forced me to see things a little bit differently. Certain things that occurred within all that help you to re-assess who your close friends are and who you can really rely on and those that maybe you can’t.

I’d love to get rid of social media. I don’t see it as a real positive.

I think it’s eroding people’s personal skills. I see the amount of time some people spend on it and I don’t think it’s sending us down a good road. The means of communication, the ability to have a conversation – all those skills are really important and they’re becoming less and less frequent.

You can use it as a tool to do a lot of really bad things. 

You hear a lot of bad stories about it, there’s no jurisdiction around it, there doesn’t seem to be any accountability around it, no laws around it. People use it in a lot of great ways but I think the scope’s there for a lot of people to really abuse it and make people’s lives pretty miserable.

I love golf.

I don’t get to play a lot at the moment. I get one day off a week and I’m trying to get myself ready for life after footy, but certainly post-career that will be something I’ll sink my teeth into.

I love reading.

I read a lot. Mostly fiction. I’ve gone through pretty much the whole Ken Follett library. I’m reading the Game of Thrones series at the moment. Fantastic.

I’m an ambassador for YGap, a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers trying to help disadvantaged people in Australia, Africa and Asia to become self-sustainable.

There is about $150 million worth of 5c pieces in circulation in Australia and probably a lot of them are sitting at the bottom of ashtrays and underneath car seats. We’re encouraging everyone out there to donate as much as they can.

To donate to the YGap 5Cent Campaign, register for a flat-pack container at Coins can then be deposited at any ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac or Bank of Melbourne branch until May 31.


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