Being an AFL player is the dream for so many young blokes. It was for me.

As a young player coming through, all you want to do is give 100% every time you are inside those four walls of a football club.

You want to impress, impress and impress some more.

You get caught up in a footy bubble where it becomes your life.

You devote every waking and sleeping second of a day to it.

You often forget about the importance of things outside of football – something I have learnt since moving on.

I was delisted at the end of 2015 and battled outside footy to find where my passions lay; a problem so many former professional athletes face when their career comes to an end.

I did a range of things and am still continuing to do some of them in regards to work.

I think what most young blokes coming through forget about is to have interests outside of football, and from day one to prepare yourself for that day you either get the tap on the shoulder for a delisting meeting, to retire or if you are fortunate enough to be one of the ones that makes that decision on your own terms.

While it has been a rocky two years since that day happened for me, I’ve enjoyed life away from footy, moving down to Byron Bay in February 2017 and I could not be more thankful that I did.

Jordon Bourke exclusive insight

I have never enjoyed football more, despite not getting paid a cent; the boys at the Byron Magpies have become family to me and I can’t thank them enough for re-igniting a flame to play footy which I lost towards the back-end of my footy career.

I’ve made a lifetime of friendships, and the community here is wonderful and welcoming to any newcomer.

Along the way, since my relocation, I’ve continued exploring different business opportunities.

It wasn’t until I was put on the committee at the Byron Magpies that they mentioned how much they spend on their medical tape budget every single year.

Jordon Bourke exclusive insight afl

I decided to take it upon myself to search into the industry and ask friends and former trainers from the Brisbane Lions, and other clubs if they knew of ways we could get source medical supplies at a more affordable cost as we were more than our allocated amount.

As I dug deeper into it I found some manufacturers who had the capacity to create personalised supplies.

I came back to the Byron Magpies and asked if I could save them thousands on their tape budget would they buy it off me?

It was a no brainer for them. I then did the same for other clubs, it was a no brainer for them too.

As I was beginning to really put in a great deal of energy and time into this venture, one of my best mates in Pearce Hanley, formerly from Brisbane now at the Gold Coast Suns, was curious as to what I was doing and I shared with him my vision for helping local footy clubs around Australia.

Pearce loved the idea that we could actually make a difference and help these clubs out with their medical costs opening up space to allow them to utilise there money in different areas of the club whilst still being able to run and maintain a business and generate profit.

Pearce came onboard basically from 2 weeks in, it was that fresh of an idea and business that we were able to come together and create ZO Sports.

Jordon Bourke exclusive insight pearce hanley

Whilst it is never ideal to get injured, rather than laying at home or wasting the free time that AFL players get a lot of, Pearce has been able to utilise that time in networking, market research, sourcing business for us and creating the awareness of what we can do to help clubs.

I couldn’t have done any of this without him and I think having both of us bounce ideas off one another works in perfect tandem.

Whilst we may be in the early stages of the business and clients it gives a perspective and a drive outside of football and something to basically bring up as your own creation.

It fills both of us with a lot of pride how far this business has come in the short time operating but I think it sends a better message especially for current athletes to utilise all resources at your clubs through networking and university study programs and opportunities that they present.

Don’t be the one to sit back, devote 100% of your life to footy.

Have your other interests and by the end of your career a pathway to secure your future and to have peace of mind that post football you are going to be okay.

I should probably mention here too that without the creative mind of my partner Elise none of this would have been possible. Her high, sometimes crazy ideas and entrepreneurial way led me to wanting to start this business with Pearce.

ZO Sports has big, big things planned and we both can’t wait for everyone to see our journey unfold.