About Michael

To those that knew him, Michael Pell had it all. Having just completed his first season as an AFL umpire, he was set for a long and distinguished career as one of the game’s most talented officials, he was also a devoted new father, a passionate Physical Education teacher and a respected member of his community. In the blink of an eye, however, he would become the centre of one of the biggest scandals in AFL history when he was arrested on conspiracy of supplying inside information to people known to him relating to Brownlow Medal votes which were then used to place bets. 

Michael’s life was flipped on its head and his reputation left in tatters as Australia began to try and piece together the nature of what had gone on. Behind the intense media scrutiny, speculation and hysteria there was a broken young man finally coming to terms with a slow deterioration in his mental health that had been driven by guilt, a broken heart and an infatuation with suicide. The same determination and hard work to become an elite athlete had taken over his emotional and mental health and he was a man out of control where only a complete rock bottom moment would make him wake up and realise it was time to get help. And here it was and all for the public to see. 

Whilst to most Australian’s Michael mental health challenges following his arrest would have been expected and understood, however, there was an undercurrent of anxiety, depression and an obsession with suicide that he had been wrestling with for many years. Like many people, Michael kept telling himself he was being silly to experience what he was. He had convinced himself he had everything and that what he was feeling must have been natural and normal for someone in his position.

His challenges escalated during COVID where he and his wife lost their first child and he found a washed up body on a Victorian beach of a man who had taken his life. These two life changing experiences were within two weeks of one another and Michael’s mental state started to quickly deteriorate. All along, he continued to tell himself, “once I make the AFL everything will be better”. But, it only got worse. 

Michael’s tale and experiences take you on a journey of his rise from an inspirational Physical Education teacher, local footballer and cricketer to an AFL umpire and the parallel decline in his mental health. It also explores his path to becoming a happier and more fulfilled person whilst withstanding the might of the AFL and Victoria Police’s determination to consign him to Australian sports “Hall of Shame” and the fight to clear his name. 

Michael has been a Teacher for 10 years where he originally began as a Physical Education Teacher at Southern Cross Grammar in Caroline Springs located in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Michael prides himself on being an energetic, caring and inspiring teacher. Michael has experienced many challenges in his personal and professional life that left a significant impact on his overall health and wellbeing and his inspirational talks and wellbeing sessions cater for a wide range of people across many aspects of life. 

Michael’s strength in his presentations is to be able to relate the challenges he experienced in the classroom, the workforce and on the professional sporting field into real life everyday challenges that he has also experienced first hand. 

You will leave his talks wanting to tell your friends about him and with a calm sense that you are not alone in your own battles and stress of everyday life that you face. It will also give you a simple but great skill set to take into your own life, empowering you to own your mental health and be an inspiration for those in your own life too.