At SALT we often receive letters of thanks. Rarely are they as well written or as moving as this one:

“A few of us at Birregurra FNC had been talking for a while about bringing someone in to do a mental health and wellbeing session with our footballers and netballers, knowing that for many of us – young and old – maintaining good mental health can be an ongoing struggle. 

As coach of the reserves footy team, I’m used to receiving Thursday night messages from blokes saying they won’t be able to play the coming weekend, because they’re going to a festival, going fishing, going camping, can’t be bothered, whatever. Midway through the 2022 season I received a Thursday night text from one of our twos players that absolutely floored me. 

“I’m really sorry Pete, I won’t be able to play this weekend. This morning I tried to take my own life.” 

This was the shove we needed to stop talking and act, and via recommendation from South Colac FNC (a rival club in the Colac and District Football Netball League) we enlisted SALT to come to our club. 

The Tuesday night when SALT Lead Facilitator Scott Angove presented to our netballers and footballers – 120 of them wedged into our cramped and rustic social rooms – won’t be forgotten by anyone who was there. 

Scott engaged the audience from the get-go, as someone who understands from experience both the good and bad that can come from being immersed in sporting clubs at community level. With nothing more than gentle encouragement and the assurance that they would be supported, people opened up and shared elements of their own stories that few or no others in the room were aware of. 

The SALT session flowed beautifully, full of elements of interactivity, personal reflection and anonymous information sharing that left everyone knowing they aren’t alone,and armed us with some basic tools to use when times are tough. 

At the end of the session, the reserves player whose attempted suicide was the catalyst for us reaching out to SALT stood in front of the room and thanked Scott and his off-sider Mark, reiterated his very personal story, and told them how much the care and support of his club means to him as he gets himself back on track. 

Our senior coach echoed his sentiment when he sent a note the next morning saying, “We are very lucky to have a club where 120 people will turn up to listen and talk about something way more important than footy or netball scores.” 

As a community sporting club, it feels like our relationship with SALT has only just begun. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough to your club, so your people can learn and grow a little more in this vital space too.”

Peter Hanlon, Birregurra FNC Reserves

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