The ALIVE Project is proud to be a key Delivery Partner for Movember’s Ahead of the Game program in Australia.

Over the past four months,  Movember has worked with youth suicide prevention organisation ALIVE to adapt the face to face program into a new COVID-safe online format, delivering it locally in partnership with Queensland Rugby League (QRL). The online-only training is being delivered to 25 grassroots rugby league clubs, including the 14 teams taking part in the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup.

 The sports-based mental fitness and resilience training program teaches athletes, parents and coaches how to spot the signs of poor mental health, how to talk about mental health and how and when to seek help. 

 While the Aussie-led program has attracted global attention – including pilots with grassroots rugby union clubs in the UK, hockey clubs in Toronto, and a partnership with the Rugby League World Cup 2021 – this is the first time Movember Ahead of the Game has been available on home soil. 

ALIVE founder and CEO Tamsyn Rose said it had been an incredibly tough season, with her team noticing a dramatic spike in young athletes’ depression and anxiety levels. 

“For the young men in the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup, everything that they worked so hard for was taken away because of the restrictions,” she said. “For these young men to re-engage with each other through Movember Ahead of the Game is incredibly valuable. 

“This will help them foster the best possible mindset, during these challenges, so they can learn from them and get set for the best kind of return to play.” 

Previous research has shown taking part in organised sport during adolescence is associated with a 10-20 per cent reduction in risk for mental health problems, compared with teens who drop out of sports.1 

Owen Brigstock-Barron, Movember program lead – mental health and suicide prevention, said that involving the whole community around young athletes in mental health training created a supportive environment both on the field, and at home. 

“It means these challenges are no longer something they have to deal with alone,” he said. “While delivering training with coaches and parents, I’ve personally witnessed those ‘penny drop’ moments where participants have realised that their players, and sons, may have been displaying signs or symptoms of a mental health problem – they just weren’t equipped to identify it at the time.” 

David Maiden, QRL Statewide Competitions Manager, said: “It’s essential that we broaden the base with those essential first responders – the coaches. In having this program delivered to coaches, we are creating that understanding, recognition, awareness, identification and prevention of mental health issues. 

“It’s such as vital skill for our coaches to have, so for us it was a no-brainer to jump on board this program.”