As we celebrate ANZAC Round, Alastair Clarkson shares a meaningful account of why Hawthorn has developed a tradition of taking their young players to the Kokoda Track..
One of the most significant things we do in the induction of our players to the club is take them to Kokoda.
We live in a very different society to what other generations, our forefathers, lived.
We’re fortunate that we live in today’s society, but what comes with that is perhaps a lack of appreciation or gratitude for what has happened before us.
Something that young people may not understand, purely from lack of exposure, is the lives that many lived when fighting for the freedom of our country.
We take our boys to Kokoda for a couple of reasons.
Number 1: So that they have gratitude for the great life that they live today.
They get an opportunity to play AFL football and get paid to do what they love, but the need to have a great appreciation of where our country has come from. They can do all that they do because of the sacrifices and courage of other generations of Australians who didn’t have the freedom and opportunity that exists in society today.
Kokoda takes our players through that very experience and gives them a military history on that campaign which is very significant given the Japanese tried to invade our country during the 1940s.
Number 2: It also gives them a great sense of the importance of team, comradery, and helping each other when things get tough.
We all face adversity in our lives, and if you try to handle that adversity all on your own, then it’s going to be a pretty tough road.
That relates to football, to your family, to your work, to any catastrophic events that you face in your world. It’s about how you respond to them, and who’s going to help you overcome them.
AFL football in particular, given that this is the vocation these players are in, is going to throw up some adversity. If we can’t have resilience when that adversity is thrown up, then we’re going to be in a little bit of trouble.
We want to indoctrinate coping mechanisms for our players as early as we possibly can, and that’s why we go to Kokoda.