Jay van Berlo fears for the future of the WAFL but leaves the game certain that he has achieved all he could in it.
The West Perth premiership player and former captain quit yesterday after telling his team-mates that he would not play on for a 13th season.
“I wrestled with the decision every day for the past six months,” van Berlo said.
“West Perth and football have been very good to me but other parts of my life are ramping up and it is time to go.
“The demands on WAFL footballers are becoming greater as clubs try to keep up with the alignment teams and it is likely to become even harder to balance them and work and family.”
The rangy midfielder played 186 matches for West Perth as well as 32 for Fremantle and two for WA.
Van Berlo, 30, has travelled widely for work as a geophysicist in recent years and found it increasingly difficult to balance that with his six-day a week WAFL commitments.
But he played 110 of the club’s past 114 matches, including the 2013 premiership and grand final losses to Subiaco in 2015 and last season.
“I turned up to West Perth 13 or more years ago to play colts and managed to have a pretty good career,” he said.
“Winning the flag and having a couple of other cracks on grand final day, and playing for Fremantle where I hoped to play one game and managed to scratch out 32, have given me all I could have hoped for.”
But van Berlo, whose WAFL stature is assured as one of the most astute players and upright characters of the modern era, was apprehensive about the league’s direction.
“The WAFL has been a great feature of WA footy and it needs people to dig in and stay strong for it to keep going,” he said.
“I am extremely fortunate to have been part of the WAFL when it was such a good competition and we need to do everything we can to keep it strong and healthy.”
Van Berlo bequeathed his No.18 guernsey to Scott Nelson and said he would continue to mentor the young player as previous No.18 Peter Julian did with him.