From the program manager’s desk… a new beginning

words by Tackle Your Feelings, Tuesday 26 January 2021

Words by Tackle Your Feelings program manager Nick Walsh

The Tackle Your Feeling program and workshop deliveries started with a bang last year. We delivered our program in Western Australia, completed a road trip through regional Victoria and New South Wales and had grand plans before the worsening COVID-19 situation put a halt to everything.

Using the buzzword of 2020, we quickly ‘pivoted’ our program to be able to deliver the face-to-face sessions in an online format.

Whilst the change was significant and despite community football seasons suspended throughout Australia, we were pleased to deliver the program to over 450 coaches, impacting 305 clubs nationally.

With a limited ability to deliver our program, social and digital media became the cornerstone for sharing important news and content. We relied heavily on Zoom and Instagram live sessions with our ambassadors.

A highlight from what was a challenging year was sharing Brett Ratten’s mental health story in May. He spoke candidly about grief following the death of his 16-year-old son Cooper in a car accident and how the tightknit nature of the football community helped him rebound.

Brett’s story was shared across our social media channels, the St Kilda Football Club’s channels and featured in the Herald Sun, reaching an audience of more than 1.5 million.

Naturally, the biggest challenge was the unknown of the pandemic but with adversity there comes opportunity and that is how we are approaching 2021 as a program.

This year, we are planning to deliver our program to over 250 community clubs through both face-to-face and virtual sessions, where required.

Last year highlighted the need to adapt quickly and the impact of technology – both of which we saw as great opportunities.

As a program, it took us just over 10 days last year to work with our psychologists and ensure we had a safe online program we could deliver and we are proud to continue to share that this year.

Being able to deliver our program online gives us the chance to share our program with more clubs and reach a wide-ranging audience across Australia.

This year we have partnered with 20 different state/ community leagues and Regional Sports Assemblies (RSA) nationally to help roll out the program.

We are also just about to embark on the process of training coordinators to co-pilot our workshops with over 100 Australian Psychological Society (APS) psychologists delivering the program.

Partnering with the various leagues and RSA’s across Australia highlighted the importance of mental health education and training in community sporting clubs. Forming local partnerships has helped our program to understand the unique challenges facing those leagues and tailor our program accordingly where necessary, further enhancing the success of the program.

With only a few weeks to go until we begin this year’s program roll-out, I am considering this next phase of planning our mini pre-season.

We are working towards having all of our systems and processes in place come mid-March in time for the football seasons and program delivery across Australia.

I am pleased to announce that our foundation ambassadors Leon Cameron (GWS Giants coach), Neville Jetta (Melbourne AFL) and Kara Antonio (Fremantle AFLW) are still on-board with the program and championing positive change in mental health.

We will also be formally announcing our newest program ambassadors in the coming weeks.

We look forward to being able to share our program with you this year.