Ben Mabon was on familiar territory when he spoke with Ballarat Clarendon College footballers before their clash with rivals St Patrick’s College on Wednesday.
Mabon said some of the best and most enjoyable football he had ever played was for the school, after moving there for years 11 and 12.
“It is thanks to College that I got the opportunity to live my dream,” Mabon said.
Mabon went on to play TAC Cup with North Ballarat Rebels and then the VFL’s North Ballarat Roosters after being drafted to North Melbourne in 2010.
“Getting drafted was a huge thing for myself and for my family, I was incredibly proud of it and I left no stone unturned when I was at North Melbourne,” Mabon said.
“I didn’t have the ability to play AFL footy and I can live with myself knowing that I gave it everything that I had.”
While he is not a Ballarat boy originally, and now lives in Melbourne, Mabon feels adopted by the town.
He still keeps in touch with those who played a role in his football journey, including school coach and VFL champion Shaune Moloney and former Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald.
Mabon’s message to the students was to enjoy themselves, while making the most of every opportunity.
“When it becomes a job that sometimes takes the fun out of footy,” he said.
“But it was a real privilege to represent the school… you pull that school jumper on with your school mates and play genuinely for the passion of it.
“I owe everything to this town and to this school so if there is anything I can do to give back, even something as small as this, I’m happy to do it.”
St Patrick’s College 16.16 130 defeated Ballarat Clarendon College 4.5 29.