Earl Ree-Goodings is far from your typical footballer.
His life does not solely revolve around taking the field for Mansfield on a Saturday, although the defender has made quite an impact in the senior side after playing in a reserves flag last year.
During the Eagles’ bye this weekend he is taking the opportunity of no football and persistent rain to go kayaking at Big River, although he could have spent the free time motorbike riding.
But it is not the most adventurous Ree-Goodings becomes.
Last year was his first playing at the Eagles having spent the previous two years hiking and camping across four continents, choosing the less conventional method of hitch-hiking around each.
‘‘I wanted the adventure and also the trip is pretty expensive and travelling in other ways also gives a sense of the adventure and the unknown,’’ Ree-Goodings, 26, said.
He said it provided him with an insight into the welcoming nature of strangers.
‘‘A lot of people doing the same thing agree that the fear in the world is overhyped and the vast majority of people are nice wherever you go,’’ he said.
‘‘The areas where you think it’s going to be dangerous like in South Africa, I hitch-hiked through a lot of the country in South Africa, and it was fine.’’
Returning to Mansfield after two years of travelling, Ree-Goodings works as a school integration aide.
Before his expedition overseas Ree-Goodings lived in Melbourne for four years, studying at Monash University where he completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in sociology and politics.
‘‘I came back to spend more time with my family after so long away, my parents are starting to get older so I wanted to make the most of them,’’ he said.
That is if his family can contact him.
Ree-Goodings did not have a phone for a few months, losing it at his brother’s bucks party this year.
But he was in no rush to find it.
‘‘The only real downside was that my family couldn’t call me, but apart from that it didn’t bother me too much,’’ he said.
He has a smartphone now, a second hand Samsung his father gave to him.
While back in the high country last season he joined the arts scene, taking a role in the Mansfield Musical and Dramatic Society’s production of Australian play Così.
‘‘I’m not a keen thespian, I just enjoy the people side of it and I did it for the people rather than the play,’’ Ree-Goodings said.
But he will not be taking part in this year’s production of Jekyll and Hyde.
‘‘The time commitment I couldn’t handle again, the theatre company was annoyed at me for having football training and football was annoyed at me for having rehearsals,’’ he said.
Ree-Goodings combined four nights of theatre practice with two nights of tennis as well as two nights training with the Eagles last year.
Skiing since he was two, he also played football on a Saturday before heading up Mt Buller to work as a ski instructor on a Sunday.
While he was thrilled with last year’s premiership in a season he mostly played as a midfielder, Ree-Goodings always believed he could make it into the senior side.
He is no stranger to playing alongside a high level of talent having taken the field with former Geelong and now Carlton livewire Billie Smedts as well as Deniliquin export Sam Lloyd during his time at Geelong Grammar School.
It was there he played cricket alongside Western Bulldogs premiership captain Easton Wood, a pastime he follows during most summers.
Ree-Goodings is vice president of the Delatite Cricket Club, but said football was where most of his talent was.
He enjoys the one-on-one contest, particularly thriving against Seymour’s Saad Saad, as he held his own against the prolific goalkicker.
‘‘I was sad when he retired because as soon as I came off the ground (in round two) I’d pencilled in the 15th of July (as a rematch) and then he wasn’t playing any more,’’ Ree-Goodings said.
‘‘With Saad Saad he was the perfect match-up, he wasn’t going to run me off my legs and his strength was the same as mine, it was a great duel.’’
Ree-Goodings often is matched on a team’s number one forward, meeting Kayne Pettifer last week as he tries to use his strength to combat them.
But having impressed in his first full season in the Mansfield seniors, the time the Goulburn Valley has to watch him is limited.
Ree-Goodings is heading off on another adventure, this time to Red Mountain ski resort in Canada and the avid traveller does not plan on being back for next year’s GVL season.