Media centre

Date published: 22 November 2011

Geelong footballer Jimmy Bartel spreads the word about preparing for life after sport

Very few of the nation's leading athletes get to bow out of their chosen sport on their terms. While an athlete might enjoy a few years at the top and earn reasonable money, the transition to a life away from the spotlight and cocooned existence of elite sport can prove difficult.

Geelong's Jimmy Bartel is a good example of a professional sportsperson who understands the potential post-career pitfalls.

A Brownlow Medallist and member of the Cats' AFL premiership-winning teams in 2007 and 2009, he is one of the luckier footballers around because his high profile and relatively erudite manner could lead well him to a career in media. But Bartel is hedging his bets. He is pursuing a degree in business through Open Universities Australia in a bid to "set myself up" when he finally walks away from playing the sport that has sustained him since he was a teenager.

"The beauty of OUA is that I can study at my own pace and still enjoy my full-time career," he says. "Once I finish football I will want to make my way into the workforce and I think it's important for me to have my fingers in as many different fields as possible"

Bartel says the advantage of studying through OUA is that students are not locked in to a specific time frame.

"It's the perfect mix; you get the lectures and the tutorials and then you have the flexibility to sit down and work when you are ready, at any pace you want."

An education ambassador for OUA, Bartel is responsible for communicating OUA's advantages to other players through the AFL Players' Association and to take its message of flexible learning into the community.

"I primarily spread the message to other AFL players because they need to get something behind them as not everyone gets the dream career playing footy - it's a limited lifespan. What's more, I think footballers are naturally suited to something like OUA as we're all naturally competitive and we can focus as soon as we have a task at hand."

Bartel says he finds his own studies a healthy distraction from football. "The game can be mentally draining and being able to focus on something else outside of football is not only enjoyable but important."

Date: Saturday 25 June 2011
Publication: Weekend Australian
Title: Kickstarting a career