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Tom Boyd

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Retired AFL Football Player

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About me

  • Western Bulldogs
  • Sport
  • Australian Rules Football
  • AFL

Tom Boyd grew up with the weight of expectation that he would one day be the best junior footballer in the country and taken with the first pick in the AFL National Draft. This is something he had dreamed of as a kid and his peers aspired to be. However after reaching this milestone when he was selected by the GWS Giants in the 2013 Draft at the tender age of 18, Tom realised in the very early days of his time in Sydney, that this career may not be what it had seemed.


Born in the outer Eastern suburbs of Ringwood, Victoria, Tom lived a normal life, enjoying his schooling at Luther College where he would excel in his studies resulting in an ATAR Score in the 90’s, as well as enjoying all things sport including, Basketball, Football, Surfing, and Swimming. However there was one thing that set Tom apart from the rest of his peers and that was his size and skill, which led to Tom always playing representative sport and being the best in the team. Although it was terrific to be admired for your talents and to receive the accolades, with it came an expectation to always be the best.


Upon moving to Sydney, Tom carried this expectation with him into a very different climate, one whereby instead of the team working together to achieve a common goal, they were essentially competing against each other on a daily basis for a spot in the team, or a new contract. This was foreign to him and one he found tough to comprehend as it did not matter what you did through the week to help the team, as you were effectively only judged on what performance you put in on game day. Nothing else mattered.


Struggling to adapt to his new life in Sydney, Tom put it down to ‘home sickness’ a term which is loosely thrown around in the AFL for those players who want to return to their home state to play. This led to Tom leaving the Giants and a lucrative 7 year, $7million deal being signed with the Western Bulldogs. This was an unprecedented move for a player who only had one season of AFL under his belt to then being one of the highest paid players in the competition.


Upon his move back home and his new surrounds at the Western Bulldogs, life seemed to be ok. Tom and the team were playing well, competing in finals in 2015, before the drought breaking AFL Premiership in 2016 which was arguably Tom’s best game of his career. At this point Tom felt he should be on top of the world given what he had achieved, however there was still an underlying niggle that something wasn’t right within him. Insomnia took a hold of him in 2017 resulting in him taking a leave of absence from the game as he would go weeks on end without sleeping which not only had a detrimental effect on his mental health but also his physical health. Returning to the game in 2018, Tom tried a number of things to help manage his symptoms however whilst he could juggle it at times he ultimately made the tough decision mid-way through the 2019 season to walk away from his career with 2 years and over $2million remaining on his contract. 


This was seen as a courageous decision by many, however as Tom explains it, he did not want the AFL to define who he was as a person, but instead wanted to carve his own path and destiny.


Tom shares his inspirational journey, highlighting his mental health battles and how he identifies and manages it on a daily basis. Still at the age of 25, Tom speaks with wisdom beyond his years and translates to listeners across all demographics. 

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Tom Boyd completed his visit to Westbourne last Friday and I can easily state that Tom was perhaps one of the finest guest speakers our School has ever had. He was evidently well prepared, his talk was planned, sequenced logically and full of tangible advice for our students. Everyone who heard him speak was impressed and I’ve actually been overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback we received following the event. Tom and Pickstar really exceeded our expectations on this occasion.
Dennis - Westbourne High School
One can debate that the private school environment is comparable to an elite sporting environment with the day to day demands and pressure associated with performance. This is the reason why we chose Tom to educate the Haileybury community. Tom presented to a broad variety of Haileybury stakeholders, students, staff and parents, presented with such professionalism, respect and empathy, adapting each session to the relevant audience. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. I would highly recommend Tom to any organisation wanting to invest in their students, community or employees. We can’t thank him enough.
Haileybury College
Tom’s story was both fascinating and intriguing. To hear about the issues Tom faced and how he dealt with them was a real eye opener. With everything that is going on in the world and how busy we get it is very easy to get caught in a rut. Tom’s story really highlighted the fact that by recognising key aspects of our life we can control our situation. Toms honesty and willingness to share his journey and openly answer the questions was greatly appreciated. It was real lesson in resilience, taking control and taking care of yourself. Thanks Tom it was a great insight.
On RU OK Day, Tom presented via a National Webex to over 250 Partners and staff with deep insight and maturity. He spoke about the challenges of mental health issues, and his own challenging journey. His observations from the world of high-performance professional sport were highly relevant to our corporate world in professional & legal services. Tom was candid demonstrating an acute awareness that the solution for each individual may be different. He is a considered voice, speaking about important issues, at an important time.
Minters Ellison
Tom, thank you for sharing your story, learnings and advice on mental health, wellbeing and resilience with our team at Coca-Cola Amatil ahead of R U Ok? day. We have a wonderfully diverse team here and our safety motto is ‘get home to what you love’. You engaged with every member of the team in a professional, thoughtful and approachable way and helped us to make mental health more visible. You could have presented as an AFL football star, but you offered so much more.
Coca Cola Amatil
Tom Boyd was a down-to-earth speaker and spoke to a diverse audience where the over 100 people in attendance were intently listening to Toms's life experience. Tom was very obliging answering plenty of questions.