The Top Blokes Foundation is pleased to join with the AFL as a delivery partner for Movember Ahead of the Game (AOTG) – a mental health literacy and resilience program for young people that will commence in community football clubs next month.
The AOTG program will be the largest rollout of a mental fitness program in sport globally and aims to educate young players and umpires (aged 12-18 years) and their support networks of parents, coaches, and club volunteers on the importance of mental health. Giving them tools to deal with life's challenges, and the confidence to support their mates through tough times, whilst also empowering them to look after their own mental wellbeing.
Top Blokes Foundation will join 15 other community organisations from across the country
to facilitate AOTG’s interactive workshops to teams of young players and umpires in community football club changerooms, before, after or during training.
The program also extends to workshops for parents, coaches and club volunteers, providing
opportunities to educate whole football club communities on recognising mental health challenges, identifying when to get help, and building resilience to deal with challenges in sport and life.
AFL Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Dr Kate Hall said it was great to welcome a host of delivery partners to the program.
“The AFL is thrilled to partner with Movember and work with our delivery partners to facilitate the Ahead of the Game program to hundreds of communities this year,” Dr Hall said.
“We know that grassroots football clubs around Australia provide a place for connection and belonging for young people. The AFL and Movember believe footy is a way for young Australians to learn crucial mental skills that build resilience in football and life. These skills include appreciating your team and helping out a mate”.
“We want to harness the power of our great game to help players, coaches, parents and volunteers to understand mental health, build mental fitness and strengthen resilience across the country so that we can build communities that are mentally fit and capable to handle any challenge that comes their way.”
With most common mental health conditions occurring in adolescence to mid-20s, Movember APAC Country Director, Rachel Carr said giving young people the tools to better understand mental health and mental fitness has never been more important.
“We know that 75% of all mental health conditions onset before the age of 25 years old, making these critical early intervention years. If we can connect with young people before this point and help improve their mental health literacy and resilience, we could slow the onset and burden of mental ill health for future generations,” Carr said.
Top Blokes has dedicated and qualified Youth Workers ready to harness the power of football to build mentally fit and healthy young people and communities. Head of Programs and Operations, Amy Harvison said Ahead of the Game is a game changer for local outreach programs and activating mentally healthy communities.
“Collaborating with other passionate organisations amplifies Top Blokes' outreach efforts and bolsters our support for mental health in local communities. This partnership is truly exciting, and we're eager to dive in,” Harvison said.
The AOTG program will be delivered in stages to community football clubs across all states and territories throughout the three-year partnership, with the program to begin in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory and Tasmania in the first year.
Community football clubs can register their expression of interest for the first year of the AOTG program via https://www.play.afl/aotg