League is probably one of the toughest sports going around. The guys that play, at
all levels, are generally regarded likewise; as being 'tough'. It takes a
very unique person to pick up an object (in this case a football) and charge
headlong into a group of very large angry men, whose intent it is to 'smash' you to
the ground, thus inhibiting your forward progress. All this without the aid of any,
or little, protective padding, no helmet (or minimal head protection) and with the
full knowledge as to their intent and the probable consequences.
Add to this fact that these athletes repeatedly continue this
process for a period of no less than 80 minutes, only being offset by 'role
reversal' (where the attackers become defenders - an equally arduous
task); never mind the countless hours of training, the need for pre-match
planning, the essential requirement to 'read the game', maintain
strong 'self belief' & confidence, understand the 'plays'
and develop an instinctive comprehension of the overall game whilst on the
While this toughness is essential 'on the field', it
does not necessarily translate to other areas of a player's life. Many a
'rough headed', 'hard-nosed' footballer can be 'gentle
giants' with their children and loved ones. Similarly, the confidence
& control they experience during a game does not guarantee social
confidence, self assuredness & control.
The type of physical & mental 'toughness'
required to play the game can often compromise a person's capacity to cope with
mental health issues such as depression. It can be seen as a
'weakness' to accept or acknowledge a mental illness or personality
inadequacy or flaw. As such, many problems that could, and should, be treated
early are going largely undetected or 'ignored'.
Inappropriate and damaging 'coping mechanisms' are
used to mask or temporarily deal with psychological, emotional & social
problems. Drugs & alcohol are two (2) of the most common methods used,
though there are many others that inhibit 'healing' &
ignoring of rejecting any notion of mental ill-health, a person puts at risk
the very things that make their lives complete. This can have life-long
consequences. There are those who have lost their football career, whose future
with the game post-retirement is severely damaged; where relationships with
their wives or partners are compromised and sometimes lost. Should children be
involved in the latter, the costs are even greater.
Financially, emotionally, socially & psychologically, the
individual becomes a mere shadow of their former selves. The dreams &
aspirations they had as a junior footballer are gone or at least barely
resemble those they once held.
This is of course one the worst scenarios & it would be
presumptuous & foolish to suggest that this will occur in each case of
neglected mental health or illness; but there are examples of this
unfortunately. It is possible.
What is certain is that there ARE consequences to this
neglect. The degree of effect from these consequences varies from person to
person & situation to situation; just as it does for any individual in
society. No two people are the same.
'Kick Off' aims to provide the player or other
related individual, with an understanding of various mental illnesses,
stressors, developmental processes & coping mechanisms, need for
assessment, treatment options and so on. Often the reason for fear &
apprehension is the unknown. Armed with an understanding, even if that's
relatively basic, will lead to increased confidence & dispel many of the untruths &
fallacies that exist among those who choose a path of ignorance. Knowledge
leads to power; power over yourself and power & strength
to overcome obstacles in your life.
de-stigmatizing mental illness and de-bunking many of the associated myths
surrounding it, we will go a long way toward maximizing your performance
'on the field', improving behaviour 'off the field' and
enabling you to fulfill your goals and aspirations by becoming the 'best
you can' - for yourself, your loved ones, friends, family &
is imperative that the same dedication, discipline, passion and
'toughness' displayed in your life as a player, be displayed 'off
field' as a husband, partner, employee, businessman, successful member of
society. It is your choice. Don't waste valuable time only to look back in the
future and wish you'd done something earlier. Hindsight is a wonderful thing;
foresight & insight is even better.
AudioUnavailable at this time
Who suffers from mental illness?
to believe that people who suffer from mental illness are different from you and me --
or that they are unable to cope in life. In fact, people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression etc.
have the same range of abilities as people without these diagnoses. Some people have
problems coping, some do very well. Some may even find their professional growth
assisted by their mental health problems. Goodwin & Jamison (1990), for example,
found that 20% of renowned poets in one sample were diagnosed with either major
depression or bipolar disorder.
a list of people who have "outted" themselves and admitted to significant
mental illness -- and are also very successful. (Historical figures have been
identified by current writers and researchers. There is significant disagreement
about some diagnoses.) Don't sell yourself or the people you work with
John Madden, sports announcer, former professional
football coach, suffers from fear of flying
Not significant mental
illness, but also in the DSM-IV and with negative consequences and connotations
Harry Belafonte, actor, singer and producer. "When I began
to read literature, what always satisfied me was the literature of these great social writers -- Steinbeck,
Hemingway, Mark Twain. . . . Richard Wright. . ." (Newsweek, August 26, 1996, p.
Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New York, vice president
of the United States (1974 - 1977)