Working in the sport industry made me a better athlete

Max Philpot plays in the Victorian Football League (VFL) in Australia, for Aussie Rules (AFL) team Williamstown. He is also an Account Executive at FANZO, the pub finder and TV guide for sports fans. You can find Max on LinkedIn.

I’m an Account Executive at FANZO. My day-to-day role is speaking to pubs and venues about how they’re engaging the community in live sport that they’re showing on their screens. That’s speaking to them about bringing more people in for the footy, cricket or basketball, whatever the sport is.

I always wanted to work in sport but wasn’t sure where and what I was doing. I stumbled across the role with FANZO on LinkedIn, and I’ve loved it ever since. It mixes both my passions as I love sport, and I don’t mind going to the pub!

Before I started at FANZO, I was working part time in a retail shop. I felt all this pressure that the most important to me in my life was ‘making it’ in footy, and if that wasn’t going well, it affected my self-worth.

By starting at FANZO and being in a full-time work environment, it released that pressure. It was like, I’m not just a wannabe footy player, I can have aspirations in FANZO and can build a life here. Footy was no longer a chore, I wasn’t going there thinking if I don’t make it here, then I’m a failure. Now, sport is something that I’m doing because I love it, and I get to run around and escape the desk. I can focus on having fun and getting better at footy and I like having that structure. Athletes thrive on structure.

Since I’ve been a kid, I’ve been playing sport and in particular Aussie rules football (AFL). It was always my dream to make it at the highest level and probably until recently, that’s what I wanted to do. When you get to around 18, that’s when most people step into a professional environment and are drafted by a club. That didn’t happen for me. But I always held out the belief that I was good enough – I never wanted to give up on that dream. That led me to Williamstown, which is in the VFL (the second tier in the Australian Football League) which is where I’m playing now. I kind of lost my way a little bit with it, not through a lack of effort, I just didn’t really have a journey or path to follow. It was a similar time that I got the job at FANZO, then I had direction through work, which corresponded with the results on the footy field.

COVID made it really tough. 2019 and 2020 was when I played my first lot of senior games, and naturally from there you start to think, well, I’ve had a little bit of a taste now, and I’ll do bigger things next year. But that season never arrived, because we played a handful of games in 2021, but again the season was cancelled, so I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

I was at a crossroads: do I continue to pursue footy? I’ve also finished uni so I need a career. What am I going to do?

I’m really lucky with work that they understand the commitment that I’m making to footy so they’ll let me leave earlier so I can fit both in. They’re happy just as long as I’m getting my work done.

And FANZO? I just love how it’s bringing people together. Most people think, oh, I can watch sport in the stadium, or at home on TV. But we focus on the out-of-home experience. We’re probably one of the few businesses that’s looking to master the venue space, and that fan activation live site space. I really love that we’re pushing boundaries and being trailblazers in that industry. And like I said, I love sport and I love the pub – so I love my life!