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headspace centres partner with the AFL and Movember Ahead of the Game

Empowering young minds: headspace centres partner with the AFL and Movember Ahead of the Game

Local headspace centres operated by Sonder including headspace Adelaide, headspace Edinburgh North, headspace Marion and headspace Onkaparinga are pleased to join 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 local Adelaide community football clubs in the coming months.

Once complete, AOTG will be the largest rollout of a mental fitness program in global sports history. The program aims to educate young players and umpires, aged 12-18 years, along with their support networks of parents, coaches, and club volunteers, about 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.

Staff from the headspace centres will 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.

“We’re proud Ahead of the Game is now available to local clubs in South Australia so we can make a positive impact on more players, parents, coaches, volunteers and the entire football community,” Hall said.

“Since we launched the joint youth mental health initiative with Movember last year, we’ve brought 18 delivery partners into the AOTG team to deliver the program to their local communities across four states and territories, officially training more than 200 facilitators. For the remainder of 2024 we intend to deliver an additional 600 workshops at approximately 100 community clubs, equating to 10,000 more program participants.

“We know our love for footy connects people and creates a sense of belonging – the perfect environment to deliver a youth mental health program that gives everyone at the club the tools to recognise mental health challenges, identify when and where to get help, and build resilience to deal with challenges in sport and life. Ahead of the Game is a flagship program in our Mental Fitness Charter.”

Over the next 12 months, the AOTG program will be delivered to in stages to community football clubs across South Australia, following its successful implementation in other states.

Steven Wright, Executive Manager of Youth Services at Sonder expressed his excitement about the partnership with Movember, emphasising how the partnership aligns with Sonder’s commitment to shaping healthier futures for South Australian communities.

“Sonder is thrilled to come on board as a delivery partner for Ahead of the Game and help to empower young athletes with the tools they need to thrive both on and off the field.”

Community junior football clubs can register their expression of interest for the first year of the AOTG program at play.afl/aotg