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Life lessons from the AFL

The bye rounds are well underway, meaning more than half of the teams have had their breaks and the rest are in sniffing distance of theirs.

This season, like all seasons before it, has had its fair share of storylines, highs and lows. Each team has also had their fair share of lessons to learn in the first half of the year. But these lessons apply beyond the realm of AFL, and can be used by anyone and everyone. It is these lessons from which, I believe, everyone can learn and improve their daily lives.

Here’s a recap of each team’s season so far and the key lesson to take from it.


Season so far: The Crows were expected to rebound strongly after 2018 and make the finals again. But while they’ve had some strong wins, they’ve also had some bad losses. So far, they’re a middle of the road team sitting in fifth with a challenging run of games to come against the likes of Richmond and Port Adelaide.

Lesson to learn: An expected rebound in life can take longer than expected and may not be as smooth sailing as forecast. This doesn’t mean one should give up, as you are eventually going to reach your goal.


Season so far: One of, if not THE surprise packet of the year. The Lions have won games that in previous years they would have lost, such as beating Sydney and Adelaide. And perhaps even more impressive? They’ve won some of their games by big margins. Yet, they’ve had their fair share of games they should have won but didn’t, losing to Western Bulldogs, Carlton and Fremantle. Having said that, finals footy is nearly a certainty from here.

Lesson to learn: Patience is, at times, very rewarding. However, one must not get cocky and overconfident with their new-found success or that success might be matched with some terrific failure.


Season so far: Brendan Bolton, gone. Just two wins so far but both are far more impressive than their two wins last year. Scoring 100+ points for the first time in three years against the Western Bulldogs was a highlight of the year so far, as was upsetting Brisbane at home. However, mixed with big losses against North Melbourne, Essendon and GWS, this is a year where the Blues are again in a prime-position to claim the wooden spoon.

Lesson to learn: If something isn’t working don’t wait for years to see if it is going to change. If something in your life needs changing, better to do it now than have to deal with the consequences of waiting three years to deal with it then.


Season so far: The Magpies have followed up their runners-up season last year with a strong start. Only three losses so far have Collingwood primed for another Grand Final showing. Their wins, though, have been far from impressive at times, with lapses in games nearly costing them against Essendon and Sydney, and losing them the games against Geelong and Fremantle. Also, West Coast may be their bogey team after losing to them again in round three this year after last year’s Grand Final, with Dom Sheed kicking an impossible goal to seal the win in both games.

Lesson to learn: A setback may provide you with the knowledge that something is not working. This is a good thing as it provides you with the chance to fix what’s wrong before anything more catastrophic happens.


Season so far: Coming off of a strong end to 2018, Essendon were supposed to play finals this year. While they are still in the running, shock losses to St Kilda and Sydney could be amongst reasons for them to miss the eight. The Bombers lost to the 18th placed team in the league for the second straight season (both times in round eight of their respective seasons). Also, the massive round one loss to GWS won’t help, even if strong wins against Melbourne, Brisbane and North Melbourne may boost them into the second half of the year.

Lesson to learn: When one is attempting something, attack it with full strength and vigour. Hesitation or a late start may end up costing you in the end. Don’t wait until 7:25 to get ready for a party that starts at 7:30 and then wonder why everyone is upset at you for not showing up until after 9.


Season so far: Strong wins mixed in with confusing losses see Fremantle placed on a knife’s edge at the fringe of finals.. They’ve had statement wins, including beating GWS in Canberra and Collingwood at the MCG for the first time since 2006. They also made sure Lachie Neale left his trip home with new team Brisbane a loser. And yet, they also lost to the Gold Coast in a game they were expected to win.

Lesson to learn: Rebuilding an area of your life can take a while. Make sure you learn from past mistakes and try to avoid repeating them. They can hold you back.


Season so far: The Cats sit atop the ladder with just the one loss to GWS at home by four points. They’ve destroyed arguably the best team of the past two seasons in Richmond as well as reigning premiers West Coast. They’ve also handled Collingwood, Essendon, Hawthorn and Sydney, who are all teams that have proven difficult to beat in the past three seasons. And they are winning by big margins, normally. This team is in a prime position to win a fourth flag this century.

Lesson to learn: Don’t panic. If something goes wrong, don’t cause an even bigger disaster by over-reacting. Instead, catch your breath, reflect, re-evaluate and try again.


Season so far: Year two of the Dew-era and the Suns started off strongly. They have largely been competitive this year, save for a bad final quarter against GWS when they conceded an avalanche of goals. Yet, they still find themselves without a win since April and their young players may be tiring.

Lesson to learn: If you’re starting something new, or are re-starting something after a previous attempt, know that there will be some growing pains. Enjoy the small successes when they come and know that they, coupled with each failure, will eventually lead to you achieving what you’re aiming for.

Every team captain from the 2019 season. Photo credit: Getty Images


Season so far: Good wins at home – some great wins too – and yet bad losses away.

Beating the Bombers by 72 points in round one at home was a perfect way to start off the year. They then lost to the Eagles in Perth by 50+ points. A good win against Sydney at the SCG was followed by a loss to a Hawthorn team they should have beaten at the MCG. Considering the Grand Final is played in Melbourne, their road-record is something they need to rectify.

Lesson to learn: If something works, adapt it to new situations. Regardless of where these situations might take place, you must adapt to survive anything, whether it be a job change or a move to a new city.


Season so far: Hawthorn’s wins are reminiscent of their dominant years gone by, especially their round one win against Adelaide and win over GWS at the MCG.

However, their losses have proven that their rebuild hasn’t quite reached the stage of contention.

Lesson to learn: If a golden era in your life finishes, it’s a good idea to set the foundations of success for the next as quickly as possible.


Season so far: Last year, Melbourne broke their finals drought in style. Now, they are stuck in the quagmire of the bottom four. The Dees have had the odd win, the best of which came against Sydney to break a nine year drought against the Swans, but wins have been few and far between in a season full of heart-breaking losses.

Lesson to learn: If you succeed at something, don’t beat yourself up if you fail at something else. If you find yourself in a hole, don’t panic and dig yourself deeper…


Season so far: The first team to get rid of a head coach this year. Their win against Adelaide and the crushing of Carlton were rare highlights of a first half of the year that included big losses against the likes of Essendon and Fremantle, and heart-breaking ones against Sydney and Hawthorn. That was, until about two weeks ago when the new head coach stepped in. Since then? Two wins from two games, including a shock-mauling of Richmond.

Lesson to learn: … and if you do dig yourself deeper, perhaps a change can bring about new successes, no matter how small or how slowly they may come.


Season so far: The Power have had strong wins, some against strong opposition like the Eagles in Perth and Richmond at home, and some against weaker opponents, like the Blues at home and the Saints in Shanghai, China. But they have suffered convincing losses against teams that, like them, are jostling for finals positions. This is a team that could very well finish top four but are just as easy to imagine finishing twelfth.

Lesson to learn: When competing with the best, you’ve got to prove that you can match it with the best. Self-confidence is everything, but it is nothing without backing it up with results.


Season so far: A profusion of injuries and suspensions to key players, including Alex Rance and Dustin Martin, have meant that Richmond isn’t as powerful as it was last year or the year before. Nevertheless, the season was going along swimmingly until they ran into a rampant North Melbourne outfit hell-bent on winning a game for their new coach. That disaster of a loss was followed by a big loss against Geelong this past weekend. The next stretch of games will determine whether the Tigers can contend for the flag for a third season in a row or not. The benefit of the injuries is that Richmond’s youngsters such as Sydney Stack have gotten opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Lesson to learn: If something in your life isn’t going the way it’s supposed to for reasons out of your control, explore something else - another passion or a desire to learn something new. You may find something that makes you a better person and a happier one too.


Season so far: Coming off a horror 2018, the Saints surprised by winning key games early, including a pressure test victory against Gold Coast and an upset over Essendon in consecutive weeks. However, they enter the midseason bye-period on a losing run, with their only win since mid-April being against a Carlton team low on confidence. Big losses against the likes of Port Adelaide in Shanghai and GWS in Sydney have taken the gloss off of their early season success.

Lesson to learn: When starting something in your life that is going to take a while to complete, pace yourself. A book is not publishable after just two chapters are written; a race is not won as soon as the starting gun is fired; and the crowd doesn’t give a standing ovation after the first line of dialogue. Don’t rush at the start, as you risk burning out.


Season so far: A slow start to the year for the Swans resulted in a 1-6 record after round 7. And yet out of those losses, the only blow out was against cross-town rivals GWS.

They then won two thrillers in a row against Essendon and North Melbourne (both identical 77-72 scorelines), before competitive losses against Collingwood and Geelong. Finally, the Swans were rewarded for effort with a crushing victory against the West Coast Eagles. Sydney will probably miss finals for the first time in ten years but they at least seem on their way to turning around this season.

Lesson to learn: Just because you have to start again doesn’t mean your target goal isn’t closer than you think.


Season so far: The Eagles are well placed to defend their premiership from last year, however big losses to Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Geelong and Sydney have exposed some flaws in their game plans. There is a chance we could see the Eagles free-fall down the ladder akin to the Western Bulldogs’ premiership defence in 2017.

Lesson to learn: Though a house may seem to be standing strong, cracks could be appearing in the foundation. Don’t try to paint over them, as ignoring the real problem will only lead to disaster. Find out the extent of what’s wrong and reinforce your house to make it even stronger than before.


Season so far: A good start with wins against Hawthorn and Sydney seems long ago as the Dogs face the real possibility of missing finals for the third straight year since winning the cup in 2016. Their season has confounded me, with good wins against the Hawks, Swans and Brisbane, mixed in with bad losses against Gold Coast and Carlton. The Dogs are the only team since round 11, 2016, to conceded 100+ points against Carlton.

Lesson to learn: Reliving the glory days is fine, but don’t let it stop you from moving on when you need to.


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