Jesse is a program participant from Ladder’s partnership with the Salvation Army’s Tools for the Trade program. Ladder Development Coaches were supporting Jesse to identify his career goals and during preparation for his mock interview sessions, Jesse told us that he had dreams of becoming an AFL player.

As the official charity of AFL players, we were able to organise an informal catch up for Jesse and Essendon Football Club’s Peter Wright - who is Jesse’s favourite player. Jesse and Peter had a zoom catch up so Jesse could have the opportunity to hear from Peter’s journey to playing professional footy. Peter also shared some tips with Jesse who had lost motivation to keep playing junior footy last year.

Peter provided advice around how to get back into training while Peter was open about the challenges that Jesse might face, he shared insights into how persistence with training is so important.

Jesse took the opportunity to ask Peter “What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?” Peter would probably tell himself to be less serious when playing junior football and to have more fun. Also to believe in yourself, work hard and keep at it.

Jesse really appreciated that Peter took time out of his day to have a chat and answer all Jesse’s questions. Once Jesse graduates from the program, he is looking forward to getting stuck into pre-season training.

AFL/AFLW players have a unique perspective and experiences that really resonate with young people in Ladder programs. We’re delighted to regularly receive support from players with group mentoring, assisting with program delivery, hosting Q&A’s and other volunteering opportunities. Sincere thanks to Peter for taking the time to provide the little extra motivation Jesse needed to get his boots back on.

“I really enjoyed my chat with Jesse talking through all things footy and life. It was great to speak about the ups and down of footy and hear some of Jesse's story. It's always incredibly rewarding feeling like you’re able to make a small difference in a young man’s life and I hope I was able to do that by sharing some of my experiences with Jesse.” - Peter Wright, Essendon Football Club