'Kick Off'
 'Tackling Mental Health for Rugby League'
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Kick Off




'Sports do not build character, they reveal it.'


'Kick Off''....Innovative, Proactive & Dedicated to Rugby League                                  

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 Kick Off...Mental Health for Rugby League

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How 'Kick Off' began.....and why.

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Program/Service History

What began as an 'idea' to meet the mental health issue of depression & suicide has fast developed into an all encompassing Mental Health Service.


Following the death by suicide (in 2007) of two (2) talented young footballers with bright futures, the question was posed; “Why is there no program for depression & suicide specifically designed for    Rugby League?” There certainly was, and is, an abundance of literature available and many organisations that provide these services, though none are specific for the Rugby League; that is, an approach that relates to aspects relating to the 'uniqueness of the sport', the 'sub-cultural' nature, 'the personality types', 'biochemical & physiological specifics' in such a body contact sport and so on.


One might suggest that this is not necessary, however having spoken with many players, it is clear that they are very reluctant to take these steps and their distorted views on mental health (and ill-health) is a significant impediment toward seeking assistance with any problems they might be experiencing.


As such, ‘Kick Off’ was born; with this intention of addressing ‘Depression & Suicide’ for the players.


The process of establishing the correct approach to the problem & designing a useful & productive program/service began with the following:



  • Needs analysis 


  • Gathering of statistical data 


  • Anecdotal evidence 


  • Empirical studies relating to Rugby League & associated mental illness 


  • Research (both personal & literature)  


Upon completion of these preliminary steps, the decision was made to adopt a two (2) fold approach; one being the establishment of a program, and the other being the formulation of a ‘service’.


The program was the ‘overarching’ organizational structure and the provision of educational & informational material for the benefit of the code. The service aspect entailed a ‘personal’, ‘hands-on’ mental health care delivery.


It was this 2nd component that would differentiate this organisation from others.


The ‘Draft’ structure & concept was originally discussed with Mr. John McDonald (ARL Chairman) and later presented to the Queensland State League CEOs. The response from all parties at the time was very positive and encouraging.


A trial of the service was undertaken with the Wynnum Manly Rugby League Club in Brisbane. It proved highly successful and was embraced by the footballers with surprising interest. In a short space of time, five (5) players approached the service for help; three (3) of which received on-going counselling.


To extrapolate this across the eleven (11) Wizard cup teams in the QRL, would mean approximately 55 possible players in the competition in need of assistance with aspects of their personal life. Given the brief time frame of the trial period, I would suggest the figure would indeed be much higher.


These players who have contacted the team have never spoken to any other agency, organisation or medical/mental health professional about their issues of concern prior to the introduction of ‘Kick Off’ to the club.


It certainly appears there are impediments entrenched in the player’s psyche which restricts and inhibits their willingness to seek help and assistance, despite mechanisms being introduced by the league governing bodies in recent times.


Unfortunately, we were not able to continue the service to the club due to financial constraints and work commitments. We were not funded in any way and this brought with it too many added pressures that impinged upon the consistency and ‘longer-term’ effectiveness of the service.


What did occur as a result of this time with the club & exposure to the players was the increased need for further expansion of the areas in need.


Educational information, flyers, newsletter, posters & the formulation of workshops & ongoing education were developed, along with an interactive ‘dedicated’ Web Site; www.kickoff.net.au.


It was also very apparent that there existed no reference tool or text book that dealt with Rugby League & Mental Health specifically. As a result I began writing ‘Mental Health for Rugby League’, in order that there is an educational foundation from which all mental health issues might be dealt with and that could be related to by all those who are involved in the game.


The combination of a centralized reference tool/text book, interactive web site and dedicated program & service will ultimately maintain the player’s mental health; addressing underlying illnesses, problems, behaviours and so on. The player’s life is enhanced, ‘on-field’ performance optimized, ‘off-field’ behaviour made more acceptable and the league’s image improved.




©2008 Waldel Pty Ltd



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"Kick Off' is a 'world first' program & service dedicated specifically to a sport....in this instance; the great game of Rugby League.



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"Keep up the good work"

Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D., FICPP
Senior Psychologist/Director
ADC Psychological Services, PLLC
1728 Broadway, Suite 1
Hewlett, NY 11557







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