Dual A-League Championship winner and PFA Life Member Clint Bolton goes 1v1 with the PFA to discuss life post football. From completing his masters, to coaching and working in the media the former Sydney FC and Melbourne Heart keeper gives us a unique insight into the process of moving on after professional football.

Q. We are now into the third season since you announced your retirement. How have you found life post football and was it a tough decision to retire?

CB: It wasn’t tough because in a lot of ways it was taken out of my hands as there was no contract on the table. There were other signs. Mentally I was starting to fatigue a lot and trying to get myself up for every game became harder and harder, and physically I started to have some issues with my knees, I have chronic issues with them and that will affect me for the rest of my life. If you throw all that into the mix it became a relatively easy decision.


Q. Did you undertake a process to work out what you wanted to do?

CB: It wasn’t really a process for me I just got on with life after football and the smartest thing I did was I just got busy with certain things. I’m thankful that I didn’t sit around, I just got busy.


Q. You mentioned earlier about being mentally fatigued in the last couple of years of your playing career. Why do you think that was the case?

CB: Personally I put a lot of pressure on myself to begin with. No one has put pressure on me that has been above and beyond what I have put on myself. I think the key is the physical side, this leads into you mental state and physically I was starting to feel that I couldn’t get to the level I wanted to and I needed to, and that just wears you down. It’s only just a few percentages but it gets to you because you know what you were capable of.

Also the environment I was in, especially in the last three years, was hard. I’m used to challenging for titles and that is the way I approach the game. Realistically in the three years I was at Melbourne Heart that was not going to happen, even though I approached every training session and game with that same mentality and I didn’t feel everyone was on the same page. Being in that environment for three years wore me down.


Q. You took up a role in the club after your retirement; how did that come about?

CB: I was fortunate that the club created a position in what I thought I wanted to do straight after football and that was to head down the road of administration and eventually be in charge of a sporting organisation. The club was great and I was learning about all aspects of the business.


Q. You have also undertaken study as well haven’t you?

CB: Through our association with La Trobe Uni I started a Masters of Sports Management and I’m just about to finish that next month. It has been two and half years and that has been one of the best things I have done. I have always loved being challenged and I have always loved to learn and develop and this whole course has done that. My life has been in sport, so my interest still lies in that.

I was thrown into the deep end. I hadn’t completed an undergraduate. I had started one at Sydney FC in the first year of the A-League but the demands placed on us at the time meant it was impossible to keep it up. I completed five subjects externally and I found that a really difficult way to learn. My Masters was on campus and I was dealing face to face with people and that was a great environment to learn in.

I had to learn all the basics of writing reports and styles on the fly. I’m happy to throw myself in the deep end and that is when I thrive. I have applied myself and got good marks. The preparation I have had as a footballer has helped me a lot.


Q. Do you think it would have been hard to undertake your masters whilst you were playing?

CB: I think it would be easier now, especially with the help you get from the PFA. Previously the training we did at Sydney FC when I was trying to study was out of the box you don’t see those demands now. There are a lot of options for players now to study or to do things off the pitch. Everyone is different but I find the distraction welcoming and it is good to have something away from football.


 Q. Are you still eager to run a sporting organisation?

CB: I’m not really sure anymore. I have sort of dipped my toes into the water of coaching and I didn’t really think it would be for me but I get it now. I coached the NYL boys last year when we won it and I’m doing the W-League this year and I totally get how coaching is so rewarding. Just seeing players develop under your guidance is brilliant. The physical issues play on my mind, due to my knees. The physical demands are still there for a goalkeeper coach.


Q. You have also undertaken media work; how have you found that?

CB: It coincided with David Zdrilic starting to work at SBS and he had his very first presenting gig, I think it was an U17 tournament, and he asked me to be on there. In the past I had always turned down those types of gigs and always thought ‘who wants to listen to me.’ Because it was Zdrila I said yes and I started to enjoy it. I love the challenge of it. In a lot of ways it replaces being a player. Your in the moment, there is a live audience and you have to produce a result and it can replace the pressures of football. I think I have got better over time and I have got to do a lot of different things including radio and TV.


Q. How much preparation goes into it?

CB: I’m not sure how everyone else prepares but I do a lot of research. I have to do a lot of work to feel comfortable. I think you can get quickly found out you are not across it.


Q. Finally, you have worked in all areas of football, playing, coaching and administration what do you think the game needs to continue move forward?

CB: I think for so long we have had people running the game that may not have had footballs best interests at heart and they are not football people. So I think it is key to identify and develop people who have been in the game for a long time to run the game. I think that should be the case at club level and at the level of FFA. We need to identify people that live and breathe the game and have played it at some level and have worked in it to lead it in a new direction or to continue to evolution of the game.



Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with current or former player to gain an insight into the lives of professional footballers on and off the pitch.