I hopped off the train this morning and had my attention drawn to a promotional installation within the busy and beautiful Central Station. The installation was promoting RU OK? Day and I was instantly reminded of a letter I wrote to Lance “Buddy” Franklin, the high profile Sydney Swans AFL player (have I mentioned I’m a massive Swans supporter – don’t hold it against me).
Towards the back end of the 2015 season, Buddy stepped away from the game as he wasn’t feeling too good. Not in the sense of injury or illness, but in the “I’m not coping very well with life” sense. At the business end of the season, many questions were asked about him, especially as the Swans seemed to be having another great year and were potentials for the finals series. I was proud to be a dedicated fan of a footy team that seemed to value a players mental health and well being, more than that of a Premiership cup.
It’s refreshing to think that even behind big business (as we all know, sport=big business) are real people. Real human beings, just like you and me.
I never sent the letter to the Swans, in fact, I penned it with this blog in mind. It was (I think) my second go at writing a piece for my (at that stage) non-existent blog. I hadn’t found the courage to actually give it a go.
It’s now April 2016 and Buddy has been back playing footy since the commencement of the 2016 AFL Premiership Season. Actually, quite a bit has happened in my own life since then too, including some glorious moments and some darker, harder moments. Since starting this blog, I now have the courage to share the letter, knowing that so many people my beautiful life touches have had to find the strength and resilience to ask for help. Not everybody can be a super star footballer and take “time out”, but everyone can be the community that will help make the darker times a little brighter for those close by.
Anyway, here goes:
21st September 2015
My open letter to Lance “Buddy” Franklin.
You are a hero to my Swans-obsessed 3 year old son. He loves watching you play footy, loves to see you kick goals and most of all he loves to be you. I’m not kidding either – he calls me Kurt Tippett, his dad Adam Goodes, his younger brother Gary Rohan and he role plays a game of footy with himself as you. It is by far one of the best things as parent to watch.
You are now a hero to me and my husband – sure, you are a super star footballer that delivers at any clutch play. But, you are a person too. Your decision to step away from a game I’m sure you love did not come easy.
I’ve no doubt you are learning that mental health is so very important to each and everyone of us; it also means different things to different people.
By taking the courageous step to remove yourself from football, you are providing an opportunity for dialogue about mental health issues for me and my sons. I am terrified that my beautiful boys will one day have no where to turn, with devastating effect. By being honest with yourself and those around you, I have hope you will come through the other side a stronger person, knowing your self inside out. I hold hope that your example will help my boys to find the courage they need to seek help, when society makes it so very hard.
You have reached complete superhero status in our household for reasons transcending football.
We wish you all the love and nourishment in the world in the world. Best of luck in your journey of life,
The Very Moody Household
RU OK day isn’t until September. But, please, if you think you need someone to share your struggles with or you are worried about a friend and how they’re faring with life at the moment, look deep inside yourself to find the courage to broach the topic. I promise you won’t regret it xx