University of Western Australia: Calling all country football players for mental health survey

Country footballers are again being asked to participate in a survey looking at the mental health and wellbeing of football players located in rural and remote communities.

The 2021 Country Football Community Health Check Survey follows a similar survey conducted last year by the WA Country Football League (WACFL) and The University of Western Australia’s Young Lives Matter (UWA YLM) Foundation, when around half of the WACFL clubs unable to play due to COVID-19.

More than 500 footballers took part in the 2020 survey with the outcomes, released in the recent ‘Get Around Me’ report, revealing a stark difference in the physical and mental health of those who played compared to those who didn’t.

The report showed more than 37 per cent of respondents who hadn’t played football during the season reported a deterioration in mental health compared to less than 20 per cent who had. More than 14.5 per cent of those who hadn’t played said their mental health was much worse, compared to 1.5 per cent who had.

And more than 55 per cent who didn’t play said their physical health had deteriorated, compared to 28.5 per cent for those who had played. The report also highlighted a “definite margin” in the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who had played over those who hadn’t.

The WACFL has now formalised a partnership with the UWA YLM Foundation and Outside the Locker Room (OTLR) to work through the report’s key recommendations of the report and to enhance research, promotion and education opportunities for WACFL clubs and players.

UWA YLM Foundation chairman, Ronald Woss AM, said the foundation, which aims to improve the mental health of young people through research, was pleased its expertise had been recognised by both the WACFL and OTLR.

“Next year it’s hoped we may do similar work for the WAFL and, ultimately, I hope the AFL will join with us, in this important research, aimed to better understand mental health issues affecting many Australian Rules football players,” Mr Woss said.

Executive Manager Country Football, Affiliates & Facilities, Tom Bottrell, said he was hopeful that many of the WACFL’s 12,500 players would complete the new online survey, which takes just minutes, to allow the best possible health data to be collected to build future programs.

“It’s fantastic to be working with UWA researchers and experts in the mental health field to help use football to develop communities in regional WA,” Mr Bottrell said. The survey closes on Friday 27 August 2021.

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