Welfare’s Role in Sport

“I have competed in Karate for Australia and now helping save lives”

I’m Taela and I have been lucky enough to secure the role of Welfare Manager with OTLR, why does this make me lucky? It makes me lucky because I have the ability to help and connect with people on a whole new platform. I have spent the best part of my life being an elite athlete for over 12 years competing at a state, national and world level in Karate, as well as playing other various sports. During this time, and especially in the past, mental health was never really addressed even at the highest levels; if you weren’t performing on mat the coaches would say you need to train harder or that  there was probably something wrong with your technique which was the issue, or in a lot of cases that you should just toughen up – rarely was it that it could be your mental game could be off, or you may have some mental health issues and that’s why your underperforming.

Now days it is more widely practiced working on your mental game as well as your physical, which is not only amazing for your physical performance on the field but also to enhance your everyday life. For most of us seeking help from a professional is often a scary thought, spilling our most private information to a complete stranger; and the thought of potentially speaking to a friend of family member may not be ideal either. However, through sport we often make strong connections with our coaches/ coaching staff which is built on trust and understanding, our coaches tend to know us better than most. Which is why it is so great that through OTLR we are able to give the coaches education and connections to a variety of health professionals to better assist them in helping and supporting the athletes they work with.

I was fortunate enough with my Karate that the club I trained at had an incredible sense of family to it, we all knew each other so well and were there for one another through the though times and the good times; be it athletes supporting athletes or coaches supporting athletes, we would train hard together, cry together and talk about how we were feeling both in life and in training. Having these open lines of communication within our club and especially between those of us that were competing at such a high level, training 5-6 days a week it was even more important for at both on an everyday individual level but also for our performance. Our coaches we train with day in and day out who have become our family, know us to the point where they can tell if there is something wrong and upsetting us and without hesitation they would be over asking us what was wrong and talking through what ever the issue was; often to the point of tears, but after the tears often became healing and relief.

Having been blessed to be a part of a club like this, gave me first hand knowledge around how incredibly beneficial welfare in sport can really be. It has led me and driven my passion for helping those within sporting clubs, as well as helping clubs get that sense of community and support within them so that all athletes and club members know that their club is a safe and supportive environment.

Written by Taela Davis