Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Goals have changed, outreach worker believes

While football and netball clubs play a huge role in the development of young people in rural communities, the qualifications coaches have to tackle mental health is being questioned by trained professionals.

ALEXANDRA BATHMAN July 8, 2014 3:20am

Outreach worker and footy coach Ivan Lister.

Ivan Lister began his footy career in Alexandra as a junior player and has played and coached football at Ardmona, Undera and Mooroopna.

He is also a qualified youth worker.

Mr Lister, 68, said he was a big advocate for coaches being able to provide good support to players. But he believed coaches would benefit from proper training in mental health issues and should complete the two-day Mental Health First Aid course available in the Goulburn Valley.

‘‘One in five people suffer depression or anxiety and I’d say in every club, someone would know someone who was struggling,’’ Mr Lister said.

Mr Lister works for Violet Town’s Hume Corridor Community Health Service as a rural outreach worker and also helps connect sport clubs or groups to health services.

He is most concerned about the level of care junior football coaches give their young players.

‘‘Junior coaches especially should be trained more in mental health. I’ll be critical — junior football is more about the coach and not the kids,’’ Mr Lister said.

‘‘I think the kids are pushed too hard at a junior level.’’

He said there was a lot more pressure on kids these days, on and off the field, and he had seen many parents upset over the effect of a coach’s conduct on a young player.

Mr Lister said his 40 years of club experience had shown him how important football and netball clubs were in helping young people find their identity, but the goals of participation and enjoyment in the junior football game had been lost.

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