Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Football can turn lives around

Young men can be turned into great citizens with the help of country football clubs, according to a country footy veteran.

ALEXANDRA BATHMAN July 1, 2014 3:04am

John Ryan knows the impact a country football club can have on a young player.

Young men can be turned into great citizens with the help of country football clubs, according to a country footy veteran.

Past player, coach and now Goulburn Valley Football League commentator John Ryan, 65, said he had seen a number of young men turn their lives around after being involved with a club.

‘‘In some ways football teaches more than just a game,’’ he said.

Mr Ryan has had experience in clubs across the region including Tatura, Nathalia and Kyabram.

He recalls a player in an under-16s team often in trouble with police and involved with drugs.

‘‘Most people wanted to get rid of him but we persevered. Within 12 months he had really turned around and helped us win the premiership.

‘‘I remember he came up to me after the game crying and we just hugged. He grew up to be quite clever.’’

Mr Ryan said seeing the improvements in the attitudes of some players was just as rewarding as winning a flag, if not more so.

He said a coach’s role was sometimes similar to a psychologist.

‘‘When I was a boy I was a bit of a wild one. But then I did my knee and had to stop playing and it made me realise all the opportunities I had missed.

‘‘I had to stop making stupid mistakes and I used to tell my players not to do the same things I had done.’’

Mr Ryan said he was concerned about the future of sporting clubs in rural towns and what it would mean to the smaller communities.

While he had not seen any closures in his time, the merging of some clubs was a warning sign.

‘‘These clubs are super important for young people to learn discipline they don’t seem get from anywhere else anymore and some kids just need some TLC.’’

Mr Ryan is now involved with the GVFL YouTube channel.

The channel has been a useful tool in keeping country football coverage current and accessible.

‘‘It takes footy to those who often can’t be there. They think it’s terrific.’’

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