Michael Close’s return to football has been put on hold, but the former AFL player has committed to returning to Harrow-Balmoral in the Horsham District Football Netball League as soon as he is able.
Close is dealing with the ongoing impact of a serious concussion he suffered playing for North Melbourne’s VFL side last season. He has been working closely with doctors to determine if the injury would be career-ending.
Close said he would be unable to play the first half of the season, but has follow-up scans in June where he hopes to be given the all clear.
“I went in and got a scan done just before Christmas – it measured the pathways in the brain and showed how it was all working,” Close said.
“It showed that it was all working well, but just one part is not as good as what it should be – they said it will get better it’s just going to take some time.
“It’s a little bit frustrating that I wasn’t ready to go right away because I was keen to pull on the blue and white again as soon as possible.
“But there’s more to life than footy sometimes – hopefully this way I’ll still be thinking straight when I’m 60.”
Close said he was “lucky” to be given the best resources available through the AFL. He said if he had not had these scans, he would have started playing football again immediately.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind because I didn’t know much about concussion before – it does show you how important it is to take things like this seriously,” Close said.
“It was a little bit scary at times but I’ve been in good hands the whole way through with the North Melbourne doctors and some world leading neurosurgeons.
“I’ve felt fine for a long time, so a lot of people who didn’t have the access to this information would just go out and start playing football again.”
Close has returned to the family farm in Balmoral and said he was excited to play football with his brothers Anthony and Simon.
“We’ve never actually played footy all together so it should be good fun,” Close said. “I might be able to teach them a few things.
“I’ve always wanted to head back to the farm. I obviously would’ve liked it to be a few more years down the track but I’m happy to be back here. One door closes but another door opens.”