Tips on how to look after your teammates during the off season period.

We are drawing near to the end of another Football season, which means the tradition of ‘Silly Sunday’s or ‘Mad Monday’s is undertaken within clubs and for some clubs it is already taking place. These end of season days are ingrained in our Australian sporting culture and are often something for all players to look forward to when the season is wrapping up, letting their hair down and having some drinks with their fellow team mates. However, we often don’t think about the negative effects and impacts that Silly Sunday’s and Mad Monday’s can have on us at an individual level, club level, family level or community level.

The high-risk drinking behaviour that comes with these days can also bring a lot of harm and impact our communities, including increased family violence, reduced productivity, and negative effects on players mental health and overall wellness. If an individual is already struggling and not coping i.e. already suffering from depression or are feeling anxious on a regular basis, spending 12+ hours straight or 3 days in a row consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and potentially drugs, is not going to help their current situation and could possibly exacerbate it. Even if players don’t currently suffer from a mental illness and they are feeling good, these days of excessive drinking could be the things that tip them over the edge.

As alcohol is a depressant, which means it isn’t going to help bring an individual up or make them feel better.  Some individuals’ may find they have increased energy or more drive to engage socially for a few hours, but their comedown after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is going to be much more severe; their feelings of anxiousness and depression are going to be much worse than they were previously. ‘Silly Sunday’s or ‘Mad Monday’s are a problem for local sporting clubs and can bring mixed messages to players, be a catalyst for long-term alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm.

At this time of the year, it is even more important to look out for not only ourselves but also each other.

Here are a couple of tips to support your teammates:

1. If you know one of your mates you play with is already having a rough time on or off the field, then watch out for them on these days where things can get a little out of control.

2. Support them in a decision to not drink excessively or even talk to them about reducing their consumption, and even better do it with them to further support them.

3. Check in with these mates the days following the ‘Silly Sunday’s or ‘Mad Monday’s antics to see how they are feeling in general and be there to support them if they are in need of support in the days that follow.

Start to help create a culture change in clubs where players don’t feel pressured to drink excessively at the end of the season or at club functions and that it is okay to do so, that their decision to not drink or only have a few drinks is okay too. That the playing group collectively isn’t going to set a bad example for those younger players coming up and playing up that the club culture is to drink excessively at these club events and that it is somewhat expected of them – create change and help support your mates towards better mental health and overall wellness.

Written by Taela Davis

Outside The Locker Room Welfare Manager & Accredited Councillor