Jamin, Dyson and Aaron Heppell are leaders in football and in life.
It has been widely acknowledged that Essendon’s Dyson Heppell has substantial leadership qualities. According to his older brother Jamin, he always had them.
The former Leongatha Parrots and Gippsland Power player is currently Acting Captain at the Bombers and he is still only 23 years old.
“He has always had those natural qualities and even through his junior playing career, he was often put in those leadership positions,” said Jamin.
Dyson played for Gippsland Power in the TAC Cup competition for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the second of those as captain. He played for Vic Country in the 2010 AFL Under 18 Championships, was named in the All-Australian team, and tied for the TAC Cup’s Morrish Medal.
Leadership qualities can be found in all three Heppell brothers. 20 year old Aaron plays for the Essendon VFL team, as well as Leongatha. Jamin is the founder of Game Changers Australia which develops leadership in young players through the Captain’s Camp program.
Jamin said, “Dyson is a young man who is incredibly gifted at his craft, which is playing football. But he’s also an incredible person. Incredibly resilient.”
“He just has this beautiful gift of not only managing the pressure of playing top level sport but can also manage the delicate relationships that come as part of an intense high-pressure environment, and working within that.”
Life at Essendon hasn’t been easy over the last two seasons due to ASADA and WADA supplement investigations and a coaching roundabout. However Jamin believes Dyson has the resilience to overcome any difficulties.
“Dyson is someone, dare I say it as an older brother, I’ve always really admired and really looked up to,” said Jamin.
“I feel we’ve got a really healthy respect for one other and somewhat bounce off each other a little bit. We have a lot of confidential conversations with each other.
“He can provide quite a unique insight into the work that I’m doing and visa versa. And I can be a bit of a sounding board about some of the challenges he faces sometimes.”
Captain’s Camp is the flagship program of Jamin’s Game Changers Australia.
“It’s all about developing young, resilient leaders in sporting clubs, to improve the culture of grassroots sports,” said Jamin. His youngest brother Aaron has been involved since it commenced in 2013.
“He’s been involved as a volunteer with Captain’s Camp, which is exciting because he’s an incredibly charismatic young man.
“To have him on the program.. he’s quite a positive role model for some of the young guys who take part in the program. He demonstrates that you can be an amazing athlete but also pursue leadership development and personal growth at the same time.
“He’s setting a great example for the young guys and girls coming through.”
With Game Changers Australia, Jamin is on a mission to improve the social culture of local sporting clubs.
“Anyone who’s been involved in team sport at a grassroots level can understand the value that it brings to their own life, as well as to the community.
“Grassroots clubs, particularly football and netball, are somewhat like a social glue that brings the community together. And I really believe that if we can create an incredibly inclusive, empowering and inspiring grassroots culture within those clubs, that will have a really positive affect on, not only those involved in the club, but beyond that to the rest of the community.
“So when we’re talking about culture change. I’m not saying that it’s not great, but it’s taking it to that next level and making it better. Tackling some of those destructive behaviours that you sometimes find, like excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug taking, even racism or homophobia.”
For more about Game Changers Australia and Captains Camp: game-changers.life