A local South Australian football club is changing clubroom conversations to help the community after several suicide deaths in the area.
- South Australian football clubs prioritize mental health of players and communities with new initiative
- New welfare commission set up after string of suicides
- Community events and regular meetings are held ahead of the 2023 football season
Football clubs provide a place for sport and connection, but clubs with Riverlands focus on the health and mental wellbeing of their players, members, and the wider community.
Balmera Monash Football Club has established a Welfare Committee under the guidance of qualified counselors.
Commission member Darran van der Waude said the region had reached a “crisis point” in terms of mental health outcomes, prompting the club to take action.
“We had some [people die by] Over the past two years, I have committed suicide both inside and outside the club, both directly and indirectly.”
“As a club, we have decided that it is a good idea to create this committee in order to build connections within the football club and within the wider community.
“We also wanted to provide support to those who need it and show them where to go to get help.”
Group gears up for 2023
The Welfare Commission first met in July 2022, but their work has been mostly behind the scenes.
Ahead of the 2023 football season, the group’s idea is now incorporating new community events into some plans.
Committee member Mel Alder has had a long standing relationship with the club.
Ms. Alder looked forward to helping young members and creating a prevention support network.
“If we can bring them together and make them feel really welcome in our space, people will want to be around it and they will feel really comfortable too.
Alder also hoped the group would organize “fun and connecting events” for young players.
She wanted to discuss mental health with older children.
“When hitting someone under the age of 13 or under the age of 15, [age groups]there’s more you can do when it comes to inviting spokespersons…or experience the challenges yourself and how they came out on the other side.
Connections Beyond Clubs
Counselor Mick Scordo is in charge of the Welfare Committee and wants to make sure the group left the Oval to make a difference.
“I have a lot of knowledge about the importance of local services and connections,” he said.
“Depending on what people offer, there are many quality organizations in the area that provide such services.
“It is our problem to connect and bridge the gap so that people can be informed that there are services available for support.”
Alder said it was important to ensure that the committee’s work was broadly influential.
“We want to expand this. We don’t want it to be just Barmera Monash Football Club. We don’t want to do more than that,” Alder said.
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