FORMER Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling has been recruited by his old school and will join St Joseph’s College in a full-time role next year.
The Cats legend and popular media personality will join the Community and Development team at the Catholic boys’ school he graduated from in 1998.
Ling said he was thrilled to be returning to the Joeys community in an alumni and philanthropy focussed role that offered a fresh challenge outside the sporting arena.
“It’s something new and something really exciting,” he said.
“It’s just a really good place to be and I think the environment will make me feel good and pretty positive about it all.
“I’m very happy and I can’t wait to start next year and get into it.”
Ling said he would maintain his football media commitments with ABC Radio and Channel Seven but to a lesser extent than in the past.
The 39-year-old has stayed involved with Joeys as a regular player with the cricket club and as one of the high-profile alumni featured in last year’s Every Boy, Every Dream fundraising campaign which raised $500,000 for a new gymnasium.
“It’s been nice to keep a bit of a connection over the years,” he said.
“A few of the old teachers who taught me are still there and going back to speak to the students a couple of times has helped to keep that relationship with the school.”
Ling – a father to three boys aged three, six and seven – said he had watched the school’s development from a distance and was keen to play a part in its future growth.
“I’m certainly watching Joeys through a father’s eyes now and it’s really positive,” he said.
“From afar I’ve been amazed at how much it’s grown, how much the facilities have grown, the numbers of students, different subjects offered and the diversity of sports, along with everything else that’s happening.”
Ling said he would be keen to draw on his leadership and mentoring experience where it was needed.
“One of my underlying philosophies that I’ve tried to do in all aspects of my life is to create an environment where young people, in this case young men, can really thrive,” he said.
“To challenge them to be their best, teach them and nurture them, at times give them a push and at times really support and care for them – that’s a passion of mine.
“I had that both from my family growing up and also from the coaches I had at Geelong and that’s a big reason why we were a successful group because an environment was put in place where we could be the best people, leaders and players we could be.
“I want to help be a part of that at St Joeys.”
St Joseph’s College principal Tony Paatsch said he was thrilled to welcome Ling as a full-time member of staff.
“We’re most excited about Cameron because of his capacity to act as a role model to young people here, and not just those currently in the school, but those recent graduates too,” he said.
“He’s a great role model, leader, father, sportsman, business person and supporter of many things in the community.
“That is what excites us most, more so than having a favourite son who is a footballer return.”
Mr Paatsch said Ling was an enormously positive person and the school community could benefit from that after what had been a challenging year in many ways.
“The core of the role is looking to make sure that we maintain a strong connection between the past students and what’s happening currently in the college,” he said.
“Having someone who is highly respected like Cameron helps that happen and should help us maintain those connections.”
Ling, who is an ambassador for many charities including River’s Gift and SecondBite, said he was ready to tackle the next stage in his career on somewhat familiar ground.
“I might just sling the old bag back on the shoulder and think I’m back walking through the gates, head to my locker and put my books away,” he joked.
“No, it might feel a little strange but I’m genuine when I say I have really good memories of my time there.
“I appreciate the opportunity and I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone, reconnecting with everyone.
“I’m really going to enjoy the challenge.”