Partner’s name: Courtney
Children’s names: Max 2 & Leo 6 months
Charity: Helping Little Hands

West Coast Eagles forward Jack Darling become a hero to the adoring Eagles fans last year, finishing 2018 not only as a premiership winner but the club’s leading goal kicker in a stand out season. Since his debut in 2011, Jack has played almost 200 games for the Eagles since his debut in 2011, and is on track to kick his 400th goal for the iconic west coast club, as well as play a key role in helping to defend last year’s premiership. Jack has predominantly played in the forwards his whole career, but has also been able to adopt successfully in the midfield. However, he is more comfortable up front where he loves defending and has shown an uncanny sense for a goal. But he also loves spending time with his kids as much as he does banging another six points for the Eagles. Leo was born earlier this year while older brother Max was born premature in 2017 and spent almost two weeks at Perth’s King Edward Memorial Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Jack and wife Courtney have thrown their support behind local charity Helping Little Hands, which supports the parents of premature babies. “I really love being a dad, it is such an awesome responsibility and I am very lucky to have two healthy happy little boys, every parent thinks their kids are amazing, and I am no different. His wife Courtney went onto say “the boys definitely bring out Jack’s inner child. Jack doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, and does whatever he can to make us all crack up.”

Do you spend much time away from kids during the season? Three days every fortnight I travel interstate, we keep in contact via facetime and Courtney sends me photos and videos everyday. I miss my family a lot and find myself scrolling through old pictures and videos of the boys when I am away. - Jack

What is your favourite activity with Max? We have a dance party every night at home before Max goes to bed, baby shark is on repeat. We go for walks around the lake everyday and he loves playing in the front yard, lucky little guy has a new trampoline on the way too. - Jack

At this young age does Max take an interest in your career? He definitely has this year, he is now able to spot me out on the field from the crowd. He has almost nailed the team song. When I leave the house with my footy bag Max says “Bye Daddy eagles” He really enjoys going to Optus stadium and to our new training facilities. - Jack

Besides their birth, obviously, what is your most memorable moment with them? With Max probably holding him on the MCG last year after the Grand Final, he cuddled me like a little koala and I just felt so content and proud. Leo is 6 months and really starting to interact with Max. Seeing Max and Leo cuddling and laughing at one another is a magic moment in itself every day. - Jack

I guess you've seen your partner in a whole new light? I have, I think she is Superwoman. Courtney is such an amazing person and she inspires me to be a better person, I learn a lot from her. She is very kind, compassionate, nurturing and selfless, Court looks after us boys so well and gives us 100% all the time. I always knew that Courtney would be an amazing mum she is really good with kids and connects with them very easy. Max and Leo are so lucky to have Courtney as their mum, they absolutely adore her and you can tell they feel safe when they’re around Mummy. - Jack

Tell us about your daily family duties? Max and Leo wake up around 7 in the morning and the four of us have a cuddle in our bed, then we take the boys downstairs for nappy change and breakfast. On a normal day we just work around the boys naps, go to the park, the shops and do the usual day to day family things. Court and I share the load depending on my training schedule and what needs to be done around the house, she is a Physiotherapist and works on my day off so I hang out with the boys. We have family dinner together every night then one of us will bath with the boys and the other dresses them in their pjs, Court usually puts Leo to sleep and I’ll read stories to Max and put him to sleep. - Jack

Whats the best thing about being a dad? I love watching them grow and go through different stages, it blows me away how much the boys absorb and how quickly they learn and copy the things you do and say. I love being silly and just being a kid myself. I want them to have a fun, loving childhood where they feel very safe and confident. - Jack

On game days, do you like to relax with the family or do they understand to keep away from you? Since having kids I am a lot more flexible on game day than I was in the past. We usually go out for breakfast and a walk or take Max to the park. The boys help keep me present and I don’t really think about the game until I start getting ready to leave the house. - Jack

Where’s Max’s favourite place that you like to take him? The Zoo, we have memberships so we go there often. Max is obsessed with the Meerkats at the moment, and the penguins. It’s always an awesome morning there and to see his face light up when he recognises an animal or see something new lights me up too. I love seeing him so happy. - Jack

Favourite family holiday? Broome, it’s a great place to visit with young children and we have created some special memories up there. Max took his first steps on Cable Beach, and we just took Leo there for the first time in June. We are getting the passports ready to take Max and Leo on their first trip overseas this off season, wish us luck. - Jack

What makes him such a great father? I am so grateful our children have such a gentle, kind, patient and loving dad. Our sons have definitely made Jack more present, I love watching the three of them play together, Jack is so affectionate and patient and loves teaching Max and Leo new things and watching them explore the world. - Courtney

How hard is it when he has to be away from home? The times that Jack is travelling are sometimes tricky, especially when Max and Leo were newborns, or illness and teething are in the mix. I just make sure I am organised before Jack leaves and then focus only on the important things when he is away. I think keeping it simple is key. Technology is awesome; to be able to connect via facetime has been really handy this year now that Max is at an age where he understands that Jack isn’t home. Although I have had a few full on weekends while Jack is interstate it is only for a few days every fortnight, it is a very exciting time in our lives, especially when it gets to finals, we appreciate how fortunate we are. I love watching Jack do what he loves, and seeing Max enjoy watching his dad play is really special, but we miss Jack a lot and definitely make the most of the weekends he is home. - Courtney


Sports Dad of the Year 2019
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