In light of recent media reports involving former players going through difficult circumstances, it’s important to remember that the AFL Players’ Association offers its full support to all players – current and past – both as footballers and as former members.
Our thoughts are with those individuals currently battling difficult circumstances, as well as those closest to them.
We need to be particularly mindful that the focus needs to be first and foremost on helping these individuals. I think we can all agree that we want to see them succeed as people, not just as former footballers.
‘While we understand the media interest in certain cases, the PA – and I think the wider football family – would like those going through difficult circumstances to be given the time and space they need to address their issues.’
In a world where players are defined by on-field achievements, it’s easy to forget that these guys are in fact human. They are not immune to the challenges and societal pressures that can affect any one of us.
Players are often built up as invincible characters – almost superheroes. That’s certainly not the case. Footballers at the highest level face the same day-to-day challenges, stresses and difficulties as the rest of the community.
At times those issues are amplified due to the pressure and expectation of professional sport.
Yes, players exhibit extraordinary feats on the field, but we are normal everyday young men off it. We come from a variety of backgrounds with differing ideals and beliefs. Besides being able to kick and mark the ball well, there are no real prerequisites to play this game.
Anyone can do it and that’s what makes it so unique and great. But it also means we are human and, as such, are fallible – just as every other human being that walks down the street alongside us is.
We need to remember that this does not simply impact the person at the centre of an issue. There are mothers, fathers, partners, siblings and friends involved.
We would all agree that these recently publicised cases are extremely complex, and the Players’ Association has been able to extend support and services at this time.
While we understand the media interest in certain cases, the PA – and I think the wider football family – would like those going through difficult circumstances to be given the time and space they need to address their issues.
The constant speculation is often felt most by the family and those closest to the person dealing with certain issues. I think, as an industry, we all need to keep this in mind.
When there is a family fighting so many battles, we hope to be able to alleviate some of this stress by providing access to our wellbeing services and programs in an attempt to put the support around these individuals to help them get back on track.
Need Support? If you know someone who requires urgent assistance or support, please contact:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Mens Line Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Support for AFL Players: If you are a current or past AFL Player and would like to know more about our specialised wellbeing and mental health services please contact the AFL Players’ at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel. 03-8651 4300 (Mon to Fri, 9am – 5pm).