BFNL raises mental health awareness

TEAM EFFORT: Kangraoo Flat under-18 coach Ben Dyett, Footy4Life founder Justin Abrams and Strathfieldsaye's senior coach Darryl Wilson. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

TEAM EFFORT: Kangraoo Flat under-18 coach Ben Dyett, Footy4Life founder Justin Abrams and Strathfieldsaye's senior coach Darryl Wilson. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

KANGAROO Flat and Strathfieldsaye players will wear red arm bands this weekend as part of the Bendigo Football Netball League Footy4Life themed round.

Players will don armbands  in honour of those who have lost their lives to suicide.

The league is aiming to raise awareness of Footy4Life, a not-for-profit foundation founded by Justin Abrams.

The key focus of the organisation is to implement and form prevention strategies to help vulnerable and disadvantaged youth.

Abrams said the long-term aim of the organisation was to support young people through football.

“Footy can be so serious and structured, whereas Footy4Life is unstructured and encourages everyone to participate whether they are good or bad,” he said.

“Footy is the vehicle, it is about kicking the footy and forgetting about their issues.

"It is all about mental health and particular youth suicide and keeping kids involved with football."

Abrams said the idea to form the foundation came from his time playing and coaching VFL side, North Ballarat.

“Our former premiership captain, passed away due to suicide and he was mid 40’s and left three young kids, a wife and a business,” he said.  

“Previous to that, two players in the same club also passed away through suicide, so I was really passionate to do something.” 

Abrams said it was important for people in the community to feel supported.

“Footy4Life is about breaking down barriers and asking the right questions to your teammates and making sure they are okay,” he said.

“It is a lot bigger than football, it is about being mentally healthy.” 

As part of the footy themed round, Footy4Life will have a life workshop at the Bendigo Club next Wednesday and then a breakfast involving local sports Chaplin Bruce Claridge on the Friday.

For more information about the Footy4Life events and how to get involved with the organisation visit www.footy4life.org.au

The round 16 clash between Kangaroo Flat and Strathfieldsaye will be played on Saturday at Beck Legal Oval at Dower Park at 2pm.

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