THE Standard is launching a new series which will uncover where sport has taken the region's talented athletes. Former Timboon Demons footballer Luke Thompson is the first to feature in 'Where Are They Now'.
LUKE Thompson is settled in Adelaide, the city he's called home since the Crows welcomed him to the AFL as a budding defender 10 years ago.
His lives with wife Caitlin and one-year-old daughter Lacie in West Lakes Shore, close to where the now-demolished AAMI Stadium once stood, and is captain of SANFL side Woodville-West Torrens.
Thompson, 29, is still at the peak of his playing powers - a 194-centimetre key defender who harbours ambitions of reaching 200 senior games for the Eagles.
But when retirement calls - in two or three seasons' time - he won't be lost to football.
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Thompson, who played 20 games for Adelaide in four seasons at West Lakes, wants to coach.
It could mean packing up and leaving the city of churches and returning to the country to get his start in the caper.
"I don't think I'll be moving unless I get into coaching later on which is a path I wouldn't mind going down," he told The Standard.
"I've talked to my wife about it. We said to get into the coaching you could have to go back to a country club or a good side in a country comp, like the Hampden league, and I'd probably look at doing that.
"I'd like to go full-time coaching if I could. I have a few connections in the SANFL so whether you stay here and do that (is an option) but there has to be a role that opens up."
Coaching is the next logical step for the long-term Woodville-West Torrens captain.
Thompson was appointed solo skipper for 2020 after being co-captain at the Eagles since joining the club full-time in six years ago.
Leadership is something he encourages his teammates to aspire to too.
The full-back loves playing in a key defensive post which allows him to be an effective skipper.
"It is a good spot to see most of the game, see the game play out. As for leadership, it is something you can pick up along the way," Thompson said,
"I know a few people say you're born being a leader but I remember when I first got to Adelaide, there was no way I could've been a leader.
"I have added that string to my bow as time has gone on. I keep it pretty simple as a leader and I have lot of good people around me."
Thompson, who was aligned to Woodville-West Torrens when we was listed at Adelaide, said direct messaging and feedback was paramount "especially to young players coming through".
"They have to learn to give and receive feedback and a leader has to do exactly the same," he said.
"I talk to up and coming leaders at our club and the thing that most stands out is your actions.
"If you're on the field and doing the right thing or you're off the field and doing the right thing and you're a leader, all your actions are going to be replicated by the young players so don't underestimate how much people actually watch you.
"If I can be a good role model on and off the field that's the legacy I'd like to leave."
Thompson was born in Wangaratta and moved to Port Campbell when he was 11 with his parents Barry and Tracey and brother Scott.
He played football for Warrnambool and District league club Timboon Demons while his mum and dad ran a Great Ocean Road helicopter business.
They have all since moved to South Australia.
But Thompson has fond memories of his time in south-west Victoria, saying "it still feels like home when I go back there".
He had good mentors too, citing Mick Hunt and Adam Matheson, who now coaches South Rovers, as having a positive impact on his football career.
"I am still part of the Timboon Demons' page on Facebook which is pretty funny," Thompson said.
"I like some of the banter which gets thrown around on that page."
Thompson played as forward for the Demons, kicking bags of goals as a 15-year-old in the senior side.
He morphed into a defender when he was thrown back playing for Geelong Falcons in the NAB League and Vic Country at the AFL under 18 national championships.
"This is how it is when you get drafted - I was a forward and they were looking for a defender so I played five games of state football as a backman and they drafted me as a defender so it's funny how things work out," Thompson said.
"If you can play a few good games at the right time in a high standard of competition then that goes a long way."
He's been at home in defensive 50 ever since and played on 300-game superstars Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda), Lance Franklin (Sydney and Hawthorn) and Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle) during his AFL stint.
"I only played on Nick for a little bit in one of the games I played and his work rate was amazing," Thompson recalled.
"Trying to keep up with him was a tough day at the office. I played on Buddy Franklin a little bit as well.
"The blokes who are tall and agile and can move a bit as well they are going to be the harder ones to defend.
"'Pav' is a man mountain, a very big fella. Jonathan Brown is huge out on the field too."
Thompson wants to remain a key pillar in the Woodville-West Torrens' defence for at least three more seasons.
"They gave me a really good start when I came to Adelaide so to repay the favour and stay there for my career is something I want to do," he said.
"I'd like to get to 200 games. It is a pretty big milestone and you get life membership. I am about 175 o 176 now."
Being part of the Eagles' wider circle, including fans, is something Thompson embraces.
"I like all that stuff. I am from the country, I am not a city person, I am used to talking to people, I like it and enjoy it," he said.
"Me and the other captain have done some things we didn't have to do and a week or so later the club will come and give us a letter.
"We had an awesome letter written by a lady one day. She absolutely loved it, we gave her kids more than she could ever ask for - photos, autographs and I think I even had a jumper and was like 'here, have a jumper'.
"It (giving back) doesn't go unnoticed."
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