Sport. Is there a greater teacher? Is there anything that unites our vast differences better?
Sport facilitates a magnificent platform to be physically active, increase social interaction and ride emotional highs and lows in a team environment.
To quote a great mentor of mine, “you rarely find that people who play team sport, end up in jail cells”. So very true.
Mental Health and Addiction is still mostly misunderstood in our culture, and it is no different in our sporting clubs across Australia.
The Outside The Locker Room program is reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction, educating around our social and community issues, as well as supporting those who need help for themselves or the people they care the most about.
Sport has played a massive part in my life. To me, it is much “more than just a game”. It is the safe medium that prepares us for life’s challenges, and to gain a network of “brothers” when you inevitably have to face those tough times.
My mum and dad always encouraged my brother, two sisters and I to be active in team sports, as a result, I played many different sports as a junior.
Aussie Rules I particularly fell in love with at the age of eight. Through hard work and some natural ability, I was able to make a VFL-list 6 times from 18-24 years of age. On reflection, I am proud to have given my childhood dream a crack. I am now almost 28 and it feels a little strange writing this reflecting on what sport means to me now.
Thinking about the journey, I’ve shared a guernsey on the weekend with approximately 400 blokes and played against 4000 more! All 4400 men are different from one another, but 3 things are consistent for each of us.
- We all have past experiences.
- We all have an ego.
- We all feel emotions.
Why I bring these 3 statements to light is to show how important support and connectedness is in a sporting club environment.
Our past experiences (1) affect the way we see ourselves (2) and the way we deal with how we feel.
With the variety of personalities and head spaces that each of our individuals in sporting clubs bring – it is essential there is a culture that exhibits inclusiveness and support, as well as honesty, growth and kindness.
As men in a sporting club, we want to show our mates our physical strength and mental toughness to gain acceptance, however we are all as fundamentally vulnerable and human as the next bloke and have to face our battles and demons.
Everyone has insecurities. Everyone has bad days. Everyone has felt misunderstood and lonely. Everyone deals with adversity differently.
A platform like OTLR encourages people, especially young men, to understand there is nothing wrong with not always being happy or asking for help from mates or a professional.
I am proud to involve what I have learnt within sporting club culture with the Outside The Locker Room program as it provides essential support for young men in particular, who are the most at risk of suicide in Australia.
My U/18 coach committed suicide in the pre-season of 2009. Scotty was a kind bloke with a tough exterior.
I coached U/19s football in 2016 at the same club, my leadership group was still understandably affected by the suicide of one of their best mates, Juzzy, in Year 11 of 2014. Another kind person with a cheeky personality.
These two tragic circumstances motivate me each day to keep supporting and educating people in this field. It is more than just a game – it is a support network in good times and more importantly in the tougher times.
All walks of life should be united in a sporting club.
There is no greater teacher than sport. Support through Sport.