Like everyone in the VAFA Community, Saturdays are our outlet. When you consider a full Saturday afternoon, Wednesday nights at Elsternwick plus a post-match review and catch up with your coach, umpiring in the VAFA is a big part of our lives and the sense of loss has hit many of our group for six – and I understand a cricket reference is inappropriate in the circumstances.
September would normally be our favourite month of the year. The weather gets warmer, training nights are buzzing and the enthusiasm for weekend footy is at its peak. But again, as with 2020, we aren’t out there, and everyone is hurting a bit. What makes this year harder is that unlike our 2020 experience where we never really looked like really getting a start, there is an overwhelming sense that footy has been taken away after we were finally back on track.
So how do you look after your people when what we are here for, umpiring on a Saturday, isn’t needed? Doing something together was where we started. We engaged with a couple of experts (psychologists and well-being professionals) along with some clinical resources and came up with a simple 3 step approach that will grow in 2022 and beyond.
- Online Check-in Space on Facebook giving umpires, coaches, and families the opportunity to connect with wellbeing front of mind. The group is a safe space on a medium that is already heavily used by our group making it a great starting point. The posts are centred around, mental and physical wellbeing, tips and tools, resources, facetime with community and check-ins. The group is heavily moderated with member rules and purpose clearly outlined.
- Coach led Zoom check-ins where anyone can jump on and connect. Every session starts with a simple but structured opportunity to share how you are going, or just sit and listen if that is what is right for someone at the time. The coach facilitating will have some additional tools to share at the ready, but often the discussion continues and takes it’s own direction.
- Wellbeing Navigator which is a document outlining our wellbeing pillars, stages & signs identifier of well-being, and some paths to help for those that need it.
It is important to note that our program is about peer-support and health promotion. We aren’t offering a counselling service and encourage anyone who is unwell to professional services.
For us this is a start and we have had some positive engagement. It will continue to be rolled out over the off-season to stay in touch and prioritise being well. In 2022 we have a few plans, most importantly moving to a per-led model because friends are often the first and best place to connect.
Here are just a few great places to start to seek information.
If you have any questions about what we are doing, or can share what your club has in place, you can contact Matt Dervan by email [email protected]