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Psychologist Chris Shen: Tips to Bolster and Improve your Mental Health

The current COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the mental health of the soccer community. Players, coaches, decision-makers, administrators, and supporters have all been impacted by the coronavirus, which can cause anxiety, distress, fatigue, a diminished ability to perform, and burnout. Scientific research has revealed several evidence-based techniques which can help Soccerscene readers bolster our mental health, during this challenging time.

Here are some tips for readers to help improve and master our mental health:

1.Savouring

Please identify ways to create savouring experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Savouring refers to strategies we can use to create, maintain, and share positive experiences.

Tips:

  • Please use mannerisms and gestures, such as smiling, and greeting each other.
  • Please celebrate and acknowledge positive events and moments with others.
  • Please write and read affirmations, and positive words and quotes.
  • Please create and listen to playlists of music and sounds which are uplifting and inspiring.
  • Each night with a beloved person, please identify three positive events that transpired during the day, as well as the causes of these events.

 

2.Gratitude

Please adopt a positive attitude of gratitude and appreciation towards yourself and others.

When we are grateful and express gratitude to others, we create positive thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and decrease negativity. A helpful practice is to show gratitude towards our family members, teammates, coaches, staff, and loved ones. When we show gratitude and compassion towards ourselves, we can often withstand challenges and frustrations.

Tips:

  • Please write a positive message to someone important in your life, expressing gratitude. Send this message, or deliver this message directly to the important person.
  • Please identify a regret in your life. Please write a reassuring message to yourself, expressing compassion and understanding towards yourself about this regret.
  • Please identify an opportunity to offer kindness and assistance to someone in need. What can you do to help someone else – especially during this Covid-19 pandemic?

 

3.Mindfulness

Mindfulness refers to a psychological state in which individuals experience an awareness of objects in their immediate environment, as well as their current thoughts and feelings.

Individuals who demonstrate mindfulness direct their attention to their present surroundings and their psychological state, but engage in experiential rather than analytical processing. That is, mindfulness refers to sustained or frequent awareness and attention to current and ongoing experiences. People who practice mindfulness develop greater self-esteem, concentration, emotional intelligence, and resilience.

Tips:

  • Every hour or so, please sit quietly for a few minutes with your eyes closed and focus your attention on your breath.
  • Then, direct your attention towards your surroundings – What you hear, what you smell, what you can taste, and how your body feels.
  • Then focus on your emotions, and thoughts.
  • Mindfulness practice can be used by Soccerscene readers in your pre-game preparations to develop focus, reduce anxiety, and build resilience.

Christopher Shen is a Psychologist, based in Melbourne, Australia. He can be contacted at: www.christophershen.com.au

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Football Coaches Australia presents ‘The Football Coaching Life Podcast’ S2 Ep 4 with Gary Cole interviewing John Aloisi

John Aloisi Coaching

John Aloisi is one of Australia’s ‘Golden Generation’. Having played over 500 games for both club and country, he is currently very recognisable as part of the Optus Sport team that covers EPL, UEFA Champions League and currently the UEFA European Championships.

His senior playing career began at Adelaide City under Zoran Matic before he headed to Europe to ply his trade in Belgium with Standard Liege and Antwerp, Italy with Cremonese, England with Portsmouth and Coventry, Spain with Osasuna and Alaves, before heading home to play in the HAL with Central Coast Mariners, Sydney FC and Melbourne Heart.

We discuss his early learnings as a player at the AIS under Ron Smith and Steve O’Connor where he learned the principles of the game and positional behaviours that could apply in any system within any team and helped him throughout his career.

We also discuss his work as a pundit or ‘armchair coach’ as we agreed to call it and how this helps him as a coach.

John’s coaching career began at Melbourne Heart with the youth team and then Head Coach of the A League team. A brief period with the youth team at Melbourne Victory before heading up to Brisbane to work with his brother Ross at Brisbane Roar, where they enjoyed finals football each year.

John was incredibly open in talking about taking over as Head Coach at Brisbane Roar, his learnings through the journey as well as determining the right time to leave. This is another terrific coaching conversation.

Please join me in sharing John Aloisi’s Football Coaching Life.

Boob Armour: Protecting women in sport for the future

Boob Armour

Launched in 2020, Boob Armour (which is officially licensed by the AFL and AFLW) was founded by Suzie Betts with the sole ambition of giving more women and girls the confidence to play impact sports while protecting their breasts from injury.

A world-first for women’s sport, Boob Armour inserts are designed to provide breast support and to minimise unwanted movement during running, as well as absorb impact to alleviate injury to breast tissue.

The inserts are made from a soft but strong polyethylene that is just two millimetres thick. These inserts extend around the underarm for added protection, stabilising the breasts into position and are easily insertable into a sports bra.

Inspired by personal experience, Betts sought medical research for the need of protective inserts for women. What she found was an underwhelming lack of attention given to the issue, and furthermore, that the products designed to do the job were ill-suited to the vast majority of women.

Suzie Betts Photo

To start off, what is Boob Armour?

Suzie Betts: So, Boob Armour is protective inserts for girls playing contact, impact and ball sport. They’re two-millimetre-thick polyethylene inserts that you slot into your sport bra or crop top pre-match. A lot of girls obviously don’t want to have anything heavy in any shape or form, and the inserts weigh about fifteen grams each.

Once they’re in, you’re basically invincible. You could get kicked; you could get punched – you won’t feel a thing. By absorbing the impact (which is what the polyethylene does) it actually alleviates any injuries.

What inspired you to initiate the Boob Armour project? How did it all come together?

Suzie Betts: In 2018, I found lumps in my breast. And the first thing my cancer surgeon asked me was whether I had received a trauma, which I found strange at the time. What I’ve since found out is trauma lumps, which present themselves later in life, can present themselves as breast cancer cells. Even through MRIs and ultrasounds can’t differentiate between them. So, you have to go down the path of what I did – biopsies and three lots of surgery to find out I didn’t have breast cancer (which I never thought I had) – to find out the lumps were a result of a trauma I received when I was younger.

So, with that in mind I had two girls who played AFLW and basketball and after asking them about their experiences they acknowledged that they’re hit in the boobs all the time whilst playing. From thereI began to look for research and found that basically, globally there’d been really nothing in terms of studies.

There’d been a study done in America in regard to football that had found out that out of 90 girls playing, 50% had reported sustaining a breast injury. And most of them hadn’t reported it to anyone. Part of the challenge would’ve been that most of the coaches were male at the time so it would’ve been difficult for the players to talk about and the guys aren’t going to ask about it. 12% of those girls actually said that the injury had affected their participation.

So, I went in search of what there was to protect girls’ boobs and really came across nothing except products that were unsuitable. So, we’ve made sure that our shells encapsulate the shape of the breasts and we’ve got seven sizes; so, there’s a size for everyone.

Originally, my background wasn’t in football it was in Aussie Rules. But as we’ve gone along, we’ve had a lot of interest from Europe and the United Kingdom in regards to football and rugby as well. And so, it dawned on me about how many girls were avoiding chest passing in football. [From there] what we’ve found is a lot of parents who previously avoided letting their kids play football, rugby or Aussie Rules are now letting them play.

Boob Armour in kit

Has it been a challenge to educate and get people on board with the product?

Suzie Betts: Absolutely it has been a challenge. Because even though we’re talking female sport and it has been around for years, it’s still run a lot by men. No one really has thought about those injuries and that’s why the research hasn’t been there.

Not until 2020 was anything done in regards to AFL injuries, which saw 207 girls who were playing AFL and rugby surveyed. About 60% of them said that they had had a breast injury and most of them have said they couldn’t play on because of it. The numbers are there when they do it but it’s been difficult to get any further research done other than what is available. Only through my own trauma do I know the next steps.

So, opening up the conversation with the male contingent has been the hardest bit and avoidance of talking about it [for years] hasn’t really helped.

Since the launch of Boob Armour, what has the response been like from the overall sporting community?

Suzie Betts: For women this is like the best thing they’ve ever seen. We’ve got some co-ed schools taking on board the point that girls need to be protected in the same way boys are in cricket for example.

And the response has been phenomenal. When the girls put it on the confidence they get for tackles, marking and chest passing is like a newfound confidence, because they know that they can just run through it or have the ability to mark or chest the ball without any injury.

So, it’s been phenomenal but the key is education. All of our medical research and promotion of that education is essential because we want it to be like the mouthguard of the future. We want it to be in every girl’s kit; if you’re getting ready of football you’ve got your shin guards, your mouthguard and your Boob Armour.

[And with it] all the girls play tougher. After every game they say with confidence that they went for it and previously it wasn’t like that without Boob Armour. And in addition, it works to minimise bounce. Another study we found discovered that a lot of teenage girls drop out of sport because they don’t have the right support. So, we don’t want that to be a reason why girls stop playing sport. We need everyone to stay in [sport] for as long as they can, so, if that tiny thing is keeping you away from sport, we’re here to alleviate that problem.

We’re really targeting the grassroots, which is why I am proud to see the young girls wearing it because they’re the ones we’ve got to educate to keep it. Some girls are only going to play for fun but they’ll be protected along the way and that’s the most important thing. It’s all about prevention.

$200,000 committed towards feasibility study for boutique Dandenong stadium

The Victorian government has announced $100,000 in funding for a feasibility review for a proposed 15,000 seat boutique Dandenong stadium.

The Victorian Government has announced $100,000 in funding for a feasibility review and development of a business case for a proposed 15,000 seat boutique Dandenong stadium. 

The City of Greater Dandenong has already pledged to match the contribution from the Andrews State Government for a total of $200,000, and will lead the project.

Cranbourne Star News reported earlier in the week that the Greater Dandenong Council was lobbying for $110 million to build a 15,000 seat stadium in the South East to host Melbourne City games in the future.

Along with a rectangular playing field and stadium, the project would include facilities for education, training, community outreach programs, and conferences. The funding will contribute towards identifying the scope and cost of the project, as well as ownership and management options. 

The money for the feasibility review and development of the business case is being funded from the Labor Government’s ongoing Revitalising Central Dandenong initiative.

Minister for Tourism, Sport, and major Events, Martin Pakula, explained that the announced funding was the first step in making a boutique stadium in Dandenong a reality.

“The development of a feasibility review and business case is an important step for the proposed Dandenong rectangular stadium,” he said.

“All stakeholders need to have full information at their disposal and that’s what this work will provide.”

Head of Government Relations & Facilities at Football Victoria, Sebastian Hassett, tweeted his support of the plan.

“The big football vision for Melbourne’s south-east is really taking shape now,” he wrote.

“The corridor between Caulfield, Cranbourne & Pakenham has an insatiable appetite for football. A stadium to call their own would be a game-changer.”

Local member for Dandenong Gabrielle Williams believes that Melbourne City’s relocation to the Dandenong area was a key reason for the development of the plan.

“Sport is booming in our local region, as evidenced by Melbourne City’s relocation to the southeast. It’s fantastic that we are moving to the feasibility review stage for the very exciting Dandenong stadium proposal,” she said.

The Victorian Government has announced a number of funding initiatives for football specific infrastructure this year, including funding for upgrades to National Premier League grounds and regional soccer fields.

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