Richard Evans (Former VAFA President)
On Tuesday night I attended a gathering at Chelsworth Park, home of the Old Ivanhoe Grammarians’ Football Club.
It was an impromptu gathering called by the President Kevin McLean. At very short notice, the Club came together to honour a former Captain and leader of the club, Martin (Marty) Veal.
Married for some fourteen years, with two young sons, Martin, a Policemen, his life ended tragically on Monday morning, the first day of a very cold winter.
Upon hearing this tragic news, the Club decided to invite all associated with it to meet at Chelsworth Park; come to together and try to work out how such a tragedy could occur and how best to deal with the human emotions. A committee man, Dan Bodycoat, himself a Police officer and grief/trauma counsellor addressed all present.
Why you might ask am I relating this sad event to you?
For many years whilst privileged to be part of the VAFA Board I stressed on many occasions our Association was more than a football competition. We are a mixture of clubs; men and women, who by their association are uniquely placed to embrace each other in circumstances that I have described where we can support, console, show concern, and offer our help and love to those most in need of it.
I know Management and Board are across many of the issues, such as depression, confronting people in our clubs . In your position you are able to “strengthen our arm” in dealing with such issues and showing leadership.
Last evenings’ experience whilst sad was uplifting, to see over ninety young men and women embrace each other and share a sad burden that had befallen them and their club and to find comfort in each other’s company. I urge you all Management and Board, players and supporters, as you steer the future, to even further cement links and ties with everyone in the VAFA; embrace them, hear their story and always be there for them.
If you or anyone you know need to talk, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14. The VAFA and the player led initiative Thick and Thin encourage all in the VAFA community to #StartTheConvo if you or anyone in your circle need to talk.