“REALLY, it’s like I’ve got two mums in my life.”
The impact of two has been profound for Zac Williams. Just ask him.
With Sunday’s Round 8 fixture against the Western Bulldogs coinciding with Mother’s Day, Williams recently spoke on the Ordineroli Speaking podcast with Neroli Meadows about everything that has led him to this point.
Part of the interview included a discussion around the input and influence that his mother and sister have had on his life.
After Williams’ father passed away when Zac was a young age, he was moulded into the man he has become today by the two closest people in his life.
“For Dad to be taken away as quick as he was and as quick as it happened, I sit back and think how I got sheltered from that because I was so young. I had these two women sheltering me from this,” Williams told Ordineroli Speaking.
“I love my mum and my sister so much. No matter what interview I do, no matter what media stuff I do, I always mention those two women in my life.
“My mum and I, we’re mates now. We’re like best mates.
“It’s quite funny every time I go home, when I have a beer with Mum at my sister’s house. My sister wants to kick us out because we’re carrying on like pork chops.
“My sister is the mother figure in the household now, which is so funny to me.”
Both his mum and sister - as well as the latter’s partner and kids - were all present in the rooms when Williams fulfilled his boyhood dream of pulling on the Navy Blue jumper in Round 2.
Admitting that it was tough to go through life’s milestones without his dad there to savour in the moment with them, Williams said it was later in his life when he realised just how much his mum and sister had protected and nurtured him in his dad’s absence.
The memory of his father isn’t far away on game days for Williams: he’s running out for his dad’s favourite team, in his dad’s favourite number, with ‘Dad #6’ written on his wrist tape.
For Williams now, it’s the influence of those females in his life that have got him to where he is today.
“My mum and my sister have been absolute rockstars in the way they’ve gone about it, the way they’ve raised me and the way my sister is raising her kids now,” he said.
“They’re absolute superstars. It’s been tough, but I wouldn’t change anything, because my mum and my sister have raised me the right way.
“I took all of it for granted when I was at home because I didn’t realise the extent. I didn’t realise how much pressure Mum was under and how much strain it would’ve taken for her to raise two kids, to pay for this and that, pay the bills and have to work long hours at a job.
“There were times when my sister had to look after me like a mother figure, which is why my sister and I are fairly close. I got to the point where I was shit scared of my sister!”
From making state teams to being crowned New South Wales’ MVP in the under-18 carnival, being drafted to GWS, playing in a Grand Final, reaching 100 games and moving to the Carlton Football Club, Williams has had his fair share of football milestones over the years.
There were also the tough times, when his 2018 season was all but wiped out (bar a finals campaign) from an Achilles injury.
He’s matter of fact when he says he wouldn’t have achieved anything close to that with their guidance.
Having made the move from Blacktown to Carlton over the summer, Williams’ voice went up an octave when labelling the excitement of seeing his family at the footy more frequently.
“Now that I’m in Melbourne, it’s a lot closer to them and no doubt they’ll be down every bloody weekend and I won’t be able to get rid of them. I owe everything to them, really,” he said.
“When I got my first pay cheque as an 18 year old and I was playing for the Giants, I gave half of it to Mum. Growing up with not much is a driving factor for me because it means I can support my family.
“Everything that I’ve accomplished in my life now — I’ve always said, if I could give my contract to those women, I’d give it to them and just play footy. I’d give them everything I have.”
That very sentence led to what Williams described as the proudest moment of his life.
Nine years since being taken with the fifth-last pick in the rookie draft, Williams was in a position to buy a home for his family.
“I bought my sister a house in Albury. I said ‘go find a house that you want, I’ve saved up my money, I’m ready to buy a family house for you guys’,” he said.
“It would’ve been maybe 6-12 months before I finally saw it. I had seen it through FaceTime with her kids and things like that, but once I showed up to the house, it was more surreal.
“It was ‘holy shit, we finally own a house, our family finally owns something that’s ours’. Growing up, I never thought about owning my own house or owning anything.
“It was one of the best feelings and every time I’m home, my sister will thank me but I tell her that she doesn’t need to thank me. I thank her for the way she’s brought me up and been on my arse when I was playing up.
“I always sit down and tell Samantha that I want her kids and my kids to know that one day, they can grow up and own a house and own a car and do these things.”
For the full interview with Zac Williams from 14 April, you can listen to the Ordineroli Speaking episode wherever you get your podcasts. It's available on both Spotify and Apple Podcasts.