The AFL Grand Final 2016 on Saturday, October 1, will have millions of Australian Rules fans glued to the on-field action between Sydney Swans and Western Bulldogs.
But for an AFL superstar who has won two premierships (and two Brownlow Medals, the code’s highest honour), there is something greater than winning a grand final.
“It’s not necessarily about performing, or about playing finals footy, or winning premierships. That’s all a bonus,” explains Gary Ablett Jr, captain of the Gold Coast Suns.
Ablett Jr, Gold Coast Suns midfielder Aaron Hall, Geelong Cats ruckman Zac Smith and GWS Giants ruckman Dawson Simpson spoke with Eternity about what they believe to be bigger than AFL success.
“Jesus changed my life and I’m just so thankful for all he’s done for me.”
Similar to high-profile NRL players who have prayed before matches and shared their Christian faith, Ablett Jr agrees that greater than winning is the difference Jesus makes.
“It’s about sharing the good news of Jesus,” reveals Ablett Jr, about his primary goal. “Jesus changed my life and I’m just so thankful for all he’s done for me.”
Ablett Jr, Hall, Smith and Simpson are Christian mates who support each other, despite club rivalries. Their common experience of having priorities realigned by Jesus has brought them together.
Hall had personal issues, including depression, when he was trying to establish his AFL career. Some of his teammates, including Ablett Jr, invited Hall to church. He went along and was so struck by what he came to know about Jesus, he became a Christian in 2013.
“The lows aren’t as low any more and the highs are even higher.”
Hall credits his Christian faith with helping him through some of his toughest times, from gambling addiction to major injuries.
“Football doesn’t define who I am,” states Hall. “I get my identity from Jesus Christ. The lows aren’t as low any more and the highs are even higher.”
Some prayer points to help
Pray for professional sports men and women, that their Christian faith remains strong despite the pressures they face.