Alastair Clarkson: balancing family and footy

Hawks coach, Alastair Clarkson, talks to us about how he finds balance between his two loves, footy and family.

With a wide smile, Alastair Clarkson shares how he, his wife Caryn and children Stephanie, Georgia and Matthew visit the sunshine state every year as a family.

“It’s a really special memory for our family because my wife’s family has been going to that area on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for many years and it’s a very special memory for my family now which is something we look forward to every year,”says Clarkson. 

This tradition prompted the senior coach to convince his other family (the Hawthorn Football Club) to host an annual training camp, where players can bring their wives, partners and kids.

“So now we can have a holiday and a training camp at the same time just before Christmas,” says Clarkson.

Watch the video, Alastair Clarkson opens up about how he balances family with footy.

Clarkson admits living and breathing footy can be tough on his family, who all ride the highs and lows of each Hawks season. But for this reason it’s important to him and the club to involve and include the player’s families as much as possible.

“There’s a lot of times where because of the demand of the role we’re required to be away from our families so where appropriate we try to bring our families to the club and be involved with the club,” says Clarkson.

Despite his busy schedule, Clarkson and his wife Caryn have committed to family time: both one on one with their kids and as a group.

“Especially when the kids were young I’d nearly devote and hour and a half of my night to lay down with each of them,” says Clarkson. “I’d listen to them read or help with their homework or just lay down with them in bed and talk to them about their day.”

“Now as they’re getting a bit older they don’t want to spend 30 minutes with their old man (laughs), so we’ve had to find other things to do.”

Alastair Clarkson body

Sport was an important part of Clarkson’s upbringing. His parents raised him in Kaniva, a wheat belt town in Western Victoria, where sport was at the heart of the community.

“You only had to put your hand up and you’d be selected in a team because most of the time there wasn’t enough players to make up a team,” says Clarkson. “But that was really great because it wasn’t about competition it was about participation.”

Now, he and his wife take great pleasure in taxiing their children around to various sporting events and training sessions.

“We really enjoy doing that and giving them the opportunity to enjoy their sport and participate.”

Clarkson says sport is incredibly powerful in bringing families together whether in the city or the country. 

“We’ve (Hawthorn Football Club) been living with those sort of values for a long, long time and it’s been really interesting that all sports, not just AFL have recognised the importance of involving family in sport.”

Up next: Ben McEvoy opens up about farming, family and footy.

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