Values, Leadership & Football with Michael Thwaite

“I find that as long as I’m achieving all my values each day— whether that be with my work outside of football, whether it’d be training, whether it’d be in a relationship — I find then that I have that purpose in life.”

Michael Thwaite


Michael Thwaite hasn’t always been a slave to his family however, as a now glorified family ‘uber driver’, running his two girls from one activity to the other, this ex-Socceroos footballer is regaining some balance in his family life.


It was at 12 years of age that Michael started to write down his goals, getting involved in Queensland football teams and developing the mindset that he was going to play for the Socceroos. “I actually never bought a Socceroos jersey when I was growing up because it’s something I wanted to achieve” he says, and achieve one he did!


His professional football journey began by maintaining a scholarship at university, cementing a spot in the university team, getting a trial in the National Soccer League (NSL) and within six weeks, he was in the first team. This was all achieved within the space of four years. Michael is now 38 years old and has played football every weekend for 30 years of his life, professionally for 18 years. This has taken him to Europe and Asia with A-League teams as well as 14 appearances playing for the Socceroos. 


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The commitment to success that Michael shows both on and off the pitch reflects the values that he learned from a very young age, which he refers to as The Three C’s – Communication, Compromise, Commitment and an element of Surprise, which is the ‘S’. Michael lives by these four pillars every day and says, “When I wake up, if I’m accepting a job role, or a team environment, I know that if I’m ticking all of those areas, I’ll gain success.”


Keen to understand exactly what Michael means by an element of surprise? Click here to see a YouTube clip The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) team prepared earlier of something he did on the field against Sydney several years ago. We have heard that Michael’s wife wasn’t too happy when it was sunrise the next morning…


It hasn’t always been easy for Michael in the professional sports environment. During today’s conversation we discuss not only values, leadership and football with Michael, but also his personal struggles with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Michael is no longer on medication to treat his anxiety. Instead, he is focused on coming up with resilience patterns that he can use every day. Mental health is a topic close to his heart and with statistics such as one in four people in Australia struggling with anxiety, one in seven with depression and eight to nine people committing suicide each day, it should be raising national alarm bells. 


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It was Michael’s Dad who first signed him up to football when he was growing up in Cairns. He is now determined to be there to give his young family the same opportunity to follow their passions. He might be seen attending Swan Lake concerts and horse-riding events with his girl’s, but he is also still training and playing football. He has gone full circle and is now back with Gold Coast United. 


During this period, Michael is also giving back to his community through the Gold Coast Recreation & Sport, thanks to his Sports Science Degree, where he is working with people with disabilities. He is also putting his energy into That’s Football; a mentoring company helping people transition into a profession that they value. He might be slowing down but he is not stopping yet…


Click here to learn exactly how Michael is actioning those Three C’s and the behaviours and habits that are necessary to build to achieve success within an area of focus. 


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