Born in South Africa, I moved to Australia with my parents when I was 4 years old. At age 12, I was introduced to Australian Rules Football. Soon I became a Junior Representative player and in 1986, I represented Queensland in the Teal Cup Under 17 National Championships. After completing my secondary studies, I was immediately involved with the Hawthorn Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL).
Being a Christian has implications for playing a competitive game such as Australian Rules. I am a person of gentle nature, but Australian Rules is anything but a gentle game. I am a big player and sometimes encounter criticism for not being more aggressive.
My parents played a big part in my Christian development. My father recognized the importance of practice in sport but every morning we also developed the practice of prayer. Before my brothers and I went to school, with my father leading, we would pray together. Although I didn't understand fully what was happening at the time, deep down I knew that what we were doing was a good and right thing to do. These times of prayer had a profound impact on my life and I was drawn closer to Jesus.
The age of 18 was a turning point for me. At about that time, I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne and really started to devour the Scriptures. My father had given me a Bible that year and I read it often. John's Gospel was especially important to me as it opened my eyes and mind to the truth about Jesus Christ.
After attending university, I had the opportunity to travel in Europe where I spent time with some people of the Emmanuel Catholic Community who really showed me what living for Jesus was all about. I saw Jesus' love in them and saw first-hand a holiness of life that I had not experienced before. The joy I saw in these people was a joy that I did not have at the time. Then I made a conscious commitment of my life to totally follow Jesus. I said, "OK Lord, I am yours. I will do whatever you want."
My favorite Bible passage is Ephesians 3:14-21, and verses 17-19 are really special, as for me, they capture Jesus' heart of love. "Stand firm and be deeply rooted in His love. I pray that you and all of God's people will understand what is called wide or long or high or deep. I want you to know all about Christ's love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is."