OVERCOMING a gambling addiction has helped former AFL star David Schwarz gain a new perspective on sport and life.
Schwarz will be a guest speaker at the Colac Tigers’ GFL home game against North Shore next week.
The veteran of 173 games with Melbourne said the opportunities of elite sport came with ups and downs.
Schwarz started gambling when he was 14 years old and he whittled away most of his income during his 12-year AFL career.
He said gambling was an addiction he beat through the support of family and friends.
“I delve pretty deeply into my history with gambling and talk about and how I was able to beat it,” Schwarz said.
“I’ve been able to beat it now for seven years.”
Schwarz said stepping away from his AFL club was part of his recovery process.
“I actually walked away from the footy club because most people involved with me were punters themselves,” he said.
“So I leant on people that didn’t gamble and wouldn’t lead me astray and through that I built a whole new set of friends.
“That’s where you can appreciate the local level because there are so many people who come through the AFL system.
“At the grass roots level you have blokes who have been at the footy club for 50 years.”
Schwarz will offer insights into building successful culture at football clubs but he will also speak about challenges of playing football at a grass-roots level.
“Obviously people go out there to play socially and do get injured and unfortunately that can affect their working life as well,” he said.
“It’s a big risk that they take to play that can often curb their income; I talk about sport as a game, not as a career.
“Sometimes you have to weigh up the risks and maybe not commit 100 per cent otherwise you might not walk off the ground, you might have to be carried off.
“It’s a holistic look at how you can enjoy the sport without putting yourself at risk.”