From the program manager’s desk… the importance of our people

words by Tackle Your Feelings, Monday 15 March 2021

Sporting clubs are the cornerstone of Australian communities from metro leagues to regional and rural areas, sport is often at the heart of the town.

With this in mind, during our 2021 planning we prioritised the importance of establishing partnerships with community and state leagues around Australia, as well as Regional Sports Assemblies to help us operationalise the program.

Through our partnerships we’ve been able to on-board 45 coordinators who will act as the face of our program in their local areas and help us deliver mental health education to community coaches.

We’ve also trained 145 psychologists through our partnership with the APS who will deliver the face-to-face program to clubs and act as a conduit between the program once the initial sessions are completed.

This component is critical. We don’t want Tackle Your Feelings to be considered a ‘fly in, fly out’ program and so we’re continually looking at ways we can deliver our program to have a lasting impact on the communities that we visit.

Our aim for 2021 is to target 250 clubs, equating to approximately 2,500 community Australian Rules coaches.

Imagine the impact that will have in increasing mental health literacy around Australia and supporting community coaches to have better and more meaningful conversations with their playing group.

One of the key components in our program is reducing the stigma associated with mental health. Through our ambassador program and the tackle your feelings stories, we aim to destigmatise this ever growing issue which will help normalise situations for our community 

It’s important for our ambassadors to resonate with the community and share their own personal mental health journeys to help break down those barriers.

We’ve been fortunate to have such an impressive group of ambassadors as part of our program. From Nevilla Jetta, Leon Cameron and Kara Antonio in our pilot year and now Dylan Buckley, Alastair Clarkson, Chad Cornes and Nathan van Berlo joining us this season.

Our ambassadors are people who champion positive change and are proud to normalise mental health.

‘Clarko’ is a great example of someone who is championing change.

He’d be the first to acknowledge that his own beliefs, not only around coaching but also mental health, have progressed throughout his coaching journey.

One of the key things Clarko talks to in his Tackle Your Feelings story is the importance of knowing your players and what types of conversations are going to resonate with different personality types.

He admits that his is one of the key pillars to the Hawks’ sustained success.

As I said before, sporting clubs are the cornerstone of our community’s right across Australia.

They’re often a central hub for socialisation in regional and rural towns and they’re also important drivers of change within a community.

If we can equip community coaches and club volunteers with the tools to understand and recognise the signs of mental health, but then also know who to call for support, then we’re going to be creating better people and better football clubs.

Community coaches player such an important role in their community and they’re embedded in it already so to be able to upskill them given their position in society is invaluable.

We’re hopeful this will create change beyond just the four walls of a football club.