West Coast Eagles AFL players have shared valuable insights with Youth Focus clients in an intimate conversation about how they cope with the pressures of life and elite sport.
Star forward Josh Kennedy and teammates Josh Rotham, Keegan Brooksby and Luke Foley visited Youth Focus’s Burswood office yesterday for an hour-long question-and-answer session with clients and staff.
The reigning champions discussed the pressures of their jobs, the importance of solid support networks and ways they seek life balance away from the high-profile sport.
Kennedy said there was a lot of support from coaches and seasoned players for their younger teammates moving up the ranks.
“We’ve got good coaches and good resources at the football club to help us develop and help us become the best we can be,” Kennedy said.
“We try and help the young guys coming through because they are scrutinised straight away. It’s just part of the game that a lot of us have to deal with.
“One of the biggest things our coaches teach is to control what you can control. We can’t control what other people are thinking, what media are saying about us. We can’t control what your friends say, what they do – so that becomes an outside noise that we don’t really need to focus on.
“When you start focussing on things you can control, you start to forget about all that outside noise because you can get consumed by it.”
Brooksby, who joined West Coast last year after previously playing Gold Coast Football Club, said a range of work experiences in different fields had helped him deal with feelings of homesickness and isolation living away from family in Adelaide.
Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said Youth Focus welcomed the awareness brought by the players and thanked them for the frank, personal discussion.
“We greatly appreciate the time of these West Coast Eagles players and their generosity in openly sharing their personal journeys with Youth Focus clients,” Mr Papakotsias said.
“Hearing firsthand how these guys cope with difficulties in their lives shows young people that they are not alone in their journey towards positive mental health.
“It shows our clients that some of their idols also struggle with difficult times and mental health challenges and that can be incredibly reassuring for them.”
For the past 25 years, Youth Focus has provided free counselling and support to young people across Western Australia. Services also include suicide prevention education in the schools and community, as well as web-counselling to regional and remote parts of the state.
Last financial year, Youth Focus supported a record number of young people in WA, providing free counselling and assessment services to 3678 young people and school and community education to another 6000.
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