Support for footy players

Pic of Paul Rigg. Photo by Damjan Janevski.216329_02

Ewen McRae

A new mental health support group aimed at local footballers is set to kick off next month.

The group is the brainchild of Paul Rigg and Paul Girardi, who have long standing relationships with clubs in the Melton region and have gained funding from the Mental Health Foundation Australia to help run the group on a monthly basis.

Mr Rigg said the group was a reflection of a growing trend for footballers at all levels to disclose their mental health struggles, with some AFL players even retiring due to ongoing concerns.

“It’s not always acute mental health conditions, but certainly episodes of poor mental health seems to be becoming more prevalent,“ he said.

“Those more high profile footballers coming out and talking about their struggles has definitely seen the willingness for local players to talk about that sort of stuff, and it’s happening at a level that we’ve never seen before.

“So we thought it was important to have a support group like this to allow local players to come and talk and share and support each other.

The group will eventually meet in person at the Melton library but will meet over Zoom while social distancing regulations remain in force.

Mr Rigg said he hoped the group was embraced by players across all levels in the Melton area.

“It might be a slow burn, we might not have many in the first few sessions, but we hope it will grow into something significant over time,“ Mr Rigg said.

“There’s a large cross-section of the community that’s involved in local sport, people from all walks of life and professions, so it’s about coming together to share and support each other.“

Anyone interested in joining the group – which starts a 7pm on October 7– can contact Mr Rigg on 0412 432 067 or Mr Girardi on 0452 442 301.

Ewen McRae