Returning Essendon captain Jobe Watson has revealed the inspiration behind the “Feminist” cap which set the internet alight after he wore it during a highly anticipated press conference on Friday.
On Friday morning, Watson fronted the media in Melbourne to announce he would return to his AFL career with Essendon in 2017, after serving a year-long ban over Essendon’s 2012 supplements regime.
But it was Watson’s cap, emblazoned with the word ‘feminist’ in capital letters, and his tales of life abroad, that had people talking.
The 31-year-old revealed to News Corp that he wore the cap as a promise to a friend who had schooled him on equality in the workplace while in NYC.
“She [the friend] was educating me on gender equality and she bought that hat for me and I told her I would wear it if I was ever going to do a media conference here,” Watson said.
“She educated me on what it was like to be a female in the workplace and on gender equality.”
In May, word filtered to Australia that Watson, the star Essendon midfielder, had been working as a barista in NYC.
On Friday, Watson explained why he chose that path and revealed the cafe that he’d worked at: Hole in the Wall Coffee on Fifth Avenue.
The cafe is run by a team of baristas from Australia.
They moved to NYC to “share what we know best with the people of NYC”, according to the company’s website.
Watson said the job was indicative of his open-minded attitude to life in NYC.
“Almond milk is a nightmare to work with,” Watson joked. “I had to get away and think about what I wanted to do with life.
“I had lived in this football world since I was 17 … What we’ve been through, so much of it is about speculation [the drug saga] – what might happen or what is going to happen.
“If you spend your life living in that world of speculation you miss the moments.
“I removed myself from it and lived in moments. It was liberating.”
‘I said yes to everything’
Watson said his open-minded outlook led him down a rabbit hole.
“If someone asked me to do something I’d say yes, whatever it was,” he said. “It took me out of my comfort zone.”
That included group fitness classes, dancing on his exercise bike, “talking about politics, comic books, all sorts of things”, and getting to know another city.
He said his NYC housemate Jackie Funder, the girlfriend of former Essendon teammate Scott Gumbleton, a woman he had know since childhood, helped him heal.
“My housemate was someone I was able to open up to and someone I could trust completely and be really honest with and to be able to talk through how I was feeling,” he said.
“I learned a lot about myself through that and through that process, how liberating it is to be able to speak openly and honestly with someone, how good it is for your mental health.”
Watson said the final piece of the jigsaw was a chat with Bombers boss John Worsfold this week.
Coming away from the meeting with the “really inspiring” coach, who Watson is yet to play for, the midfielder declared himself ready to commit.
– with AAP