MELBOURNE Vixens goaler Mwai Kumwenda's visit to Alfredton was far more significant than a netball skills session. It proved a lesson to be mindful about.
Mental tactics for athletes are as old as sport themselves and continue to evolve in both preparation and for use in playing arenas.
But relaying the off court fears and how Kumwenda overcame these perhaps carry far greater weight as lessons from the game now.
Kumwenda visited Ballarat Swans and Storm in the wake of her return to the game from a knee reconstruction. We hear about them in sport all the time, particularly football and netball, the anterior-cruciate ligament ruptures that rob an athlete a year of their careers.
Put simply, the Vixens rallied and were by her side every step in her recovery. This is the fact of the story that should not be taken for granted.
Swans and Storm junior netball leaders have been working hard to reinforce this important point - looking after each other.
Mental health and support has been a wider focus for the football-netball club but junior netballers have had specialist training to talk about depression, anxiety, suicide and well-being. This training won them the training session with Vixen.
Ms Sullivan has told The Courier it was important girls know how to look after each other, but also family members and friends. She said while young men had a higher rate of completed suicides, young females have a higher rate of attempted suicide and self-harm. The club wanted girls to know being part of a netball team could be about trust and leaning on each other off the court.
When Kumwenda's recovery story at the elite level reinforces this message to look after each other, it can really help to mean something.
Football clubs across the region are stepping up and proactively taking on mental health as their responsibility. Buninyong president Phillip Wilson told The Courier last month talking about such a complex issue within a club had positive ripple effects into the wider community.
This is why an emotional personal account published this week from Australian Opal Liz Cambage is so powerful.
Cambage wanted to explain why she was missing matches in the Women's National Basketball Association and her team Las Vegas Aces. She writes in Players' Tribune this was not just clearing the air, "what's been going on is just...my life".
Cambage, aged 27, writes this comes amid a lot of praise for a new NBA rule making every team have a mental health professional on staff. She argues, it is hard to applaud such progress when this does not extend to the women's competition.
Cambage calls for a day when the DNP - Rest beside her name would actually say, did not play - mental health.
She questions whether society is really ready to talk mental health, all the deep and ugly stuff.
In Ballarat, our sporting clubs are at least helping to start those talks.
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