Listen: Callum Sinclair of the Sydney Swans chats about the ups and downs of a professional sport career.
Becoming a professional sports star may be a career dream for many children, but is the reality of this dream as sweet as it sounds?
Callum Sinclair, Sydney Swans star, was one of those kids with that dream—only his dream became reality.
Now 27, Callum caught up with us on the breakfast show during Career Week to discuss how to keep your dream of professional sport from turning sour.
In the early days, Callum remembers watching the AFL stars on TV and dreaming one day that he might follow in their footsteps. It wasn’t until his teenage years, though, that he started to recognise the challenge and hard work required to make that dream a reality.
Unlike other AFL players, Callum didn’t immediately make the jump at age 18 to playing professional football. He had to wait through a few years of uncertainty until the age of 22 to get his opportunity.
In the Off Season
According to Callum, “every player has a moment where the sport feels like a grind”. Right now the ruckman born player is in the middle of pre-season. With no games to play, the athlete is day in and day out enduring relentless series of practices.
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What makes the break from games easier, though, is the comradery of the 40 other professional athletes, making that same commitment to the team.
“It’s helpful to have your friends around,” said Callum.
Callum’s encouragement, regardless of your sport or profession, is that “if life is getting to you, surround yourself with a community that can encourage you and keep you motivated”.
“I pinch myself sometimes; I get to play a game for a full time job,” he said. “I get to chase a football with my life for a fulltime job.”
Advice to Keep the Dream Alive
For Callum, playing the sport that he loves alongside friends, and getting to call that his profession is a blessing.
Yet even in the midst of an incredible job, there are moments when injury and pain take the gloss off being a professional athlete—those times when you’re stuck inside because of a football injury, for example.
Callum shared two key pieces of advice for those in a sporting career or dreaming to be.
The First Key is Balance
Making sure that you balance the game with a robust community outside of the sport, and having good holidays, are important steps in making sure you continue loving the job.
For Callum, taking moments when he can get away, rest and enjoy his life socially without the rigors of being a professional AFL star are very important.
He says study, surfing and downtime away from Sydney help to bring balance to his life.
The Second Key is Enjoyment
Callum’s other major tip to those serious about moving into a sport, is to make sure you love the game, because as a professional you will be spending most of your time doing that sport.
“I see a lot of young kids get turned away because the enjoyment stops for them,” he said. “I think by being engaged and remembering why you are playing you are more likely to enjoy the game.
“The game isn’t going to go your way all the time. The reality is there are a lot of ups and downs, and honestly sometimes there are more downs than ups. If you stick at it and build a bit of resilience, success is really achievable.”
See the full O-Week interview series below.