Melbourne Storm's Ryan Hoffman has been nominated as a finalist in the 2014 Sports Dad of the Year competition.
The 30-year old is one of three rugby league players to make the final 10, sitting alongside Manly's Matt Ballin and Gold Coast's Mark Minichiello.
Partner’s name: Mel
Child’s name: Zach (1)
Charity of choice: Heart Kids
Ryan Hoffman is one of the premier back-rowers in the NRL, and an integral part of the Melbourne Storm. This year, he played a key role in NSW winning its first State of Origin series in eight years, playing a starring role in all three games for the Blues against the Maroons. Hoffman has played almost 250 games for the Melbourne Storm since his debut in 2003, leaving to play a stint with the famous Wigan club in 2011. He has also played 10 Origins for the Blues and five Tests for the Kangaroos, and scored a try in the Storm’s 2012 premiership win over the Bulldogs. When he isn’t terrorizing defences with his strong charges, Ryan is a doting dad to son Zach. “Zach is the best thing that’s happened to me,” Ryan said. “Winning Premierships and Origins are great and I’ll cherish those moments forever but Zach is a part of me that my wife and I created and something that is unique. Plenty of people have played Origin and won grand finals but I’m the only father of Zach Hoffman.” Mel said: “Ryan is a great father because he’s enthusiastic about being a dad, he’s genuinely smitten by his little boy and because, like his approach to footy, he’s always striving to be the absolute best that he can be. There’s no assumption that certain things are “not his job”, there’s no complaining about needing time to himself after a long day at training, he just jumps straight in, rolls his sleeves up and gets into whatever needs doing. Best of all he genuinely enjoys it.”
Have you found it hard spending time away from Zach during your football commitments?
Being away from Zach is extremely hard and I’m so thankful for the invention of Skype and FaceTime. Whenever I am away I try to Skype/FaceTime in the morning and afternoon which makes it a bit easier. I’m lucky to have such a great wife who brings him to Origin and a few away games which is amazing. – Ryan
How big an inspiration is he to your career?
Some of my earliest childhood memories is going to training with dad (former first grader Jay Hoffman) and being around footy with him and I just want to give Zach the same experiences. It will be great when he is a bit older and understands what dad does and I can show him photos and videos. – Ryan
What is your favourite activity with him?
I love taking him to swimming lessons. He is a real water baby and it’s great to be in the pool with him. I think I have more fun than him sometimes. – Ryan
On game days, do you like to relax with Zach or do you try to keep away from the family?
On game days we try to keep the day as normal as possible. So I play with him as I normally would and have lunch with him. He doesn’t know any different till we get to the footy and he sees lots of people. – Ryan
The best moment so far was when I came home from Origin II. Before I left for camp he had just taken his first steps and when I came home and he saw me he pulled himself up and walked about 7-8 steps with his arms out straight at me with a big smile on his face. It was the best! – Ryan
How much has your life changed since the birth?
Life has changed unbelievably. He is the main focus and all the time we are just thinking of doing different things with him and taking him different places. – Ryan
Tell us about the nappy changes and washing Zach?
I get in and do the nappies. Mel will say I make a big song and dance about it but I get in there. I do bath time. We have a system where I do the bath, read him a story and put him to bed and Mel cleans up the kitchen after dinner! – Ryan
I guess you've seen your partner in a whole new light?
Mel is a fantastic mum. As someone who didn’t see herself as an overly maternal person before he was born, she has done a great job and to see her confidence grow as a mum and her willingness to try new things has been a great influence on him. – Ryan
Were you at the birth, what was it like?
Yes I was there at the birth. Zach was a very large baby (10lb) and there was no way he was coming out the old fashioned exit so he came out the sunroof (caesarean)! It was an amazing, enjoyable experience and when he was out I completely forgot to check if he was a boy or girl. The doctor had to tell me! – Ryan
What's been the toughest thing to adjust to?
The early morning starts. I’m a bloke who loves a sleep in so to sleep later than 7am would be good but to be honest he is such a great boy I’ve really enjoyed the change in lifestyle. – Ryan
What's the best part of your day with Zach … bath time? play time?
Every part is the best time with Zach. Bath time, playtime, swimming lessons, walking the dog. I love doing it all with him! – Ryan
How hard is it when he has to be away from home and on game days?
The times when Ryan is away are some of the hardest we’ve experienced as parents. I miss Ryan, Zach misses Ryan, and Ryan misses us terribly. The Origin period is by far the hardest – it basically amounts to a month of time spent away in the space of 9 weeks. Still, Zach and I try to make sure we do lots of fun stuff, FaceTime Ryan regularly and reach out to friends and family to make sure we don’t get sick of each other! I try to send Ryan heaps of pictures, which he really appreciates. – Mel
What is his best asset as a father?
Ryan’s best asset as a father is the positive influence he has over Zach – he’s a naturally positive and relaxed person, and whatever they do together, whether it’s meal time, reading a story, or wrestling time, Ryan is really positive and enthusiastic about it. – Mel
Is he involved in feeding, what task does he perform in helping you feed, settling, nappy changes, bath the baby?
He is absolutely involved in feeding, nappy changing, bathing and settling - everything. We have a lovely routine where we sit down together each night at 6pm and eat dinner, then the boys go off for bath and story time, and I tidy up in the kitchen. It’s a nice thing for them to do together each night, especially on the days that Ryan has been working all day. Basically Ryan will do whatever needs doing, and always has done. Ryan has been excited about being a father for as long as I’ve known him, and it shows in his willingness to do everything alongside me. – Mel