Community: The AFLPA have been a huge supporter of integrating players to the community. An example: The AFLPA Ladder program was developed through the initiative of AFL players to help homeless youth in Melbourne. Some players had been working with AFL Collingwood chaplain and Salvation Army Officer, Brendan Nottle. During their time with Brendan, they had been exposed to the sights of young people, some under 12 years of age, living on the streets. The result was the Ladder program. This has been an amazing housing project and a witness to the work of the AFLPA.
Psychological services: The AFLPA run courses for players on mental health and behavioural issues such as depression. Their services also provide counselling for players in all areas, for example in counselling players with their relationships.
Career development: The AFLPA work with business and educational institutions to help players develop their careers outside their sport. For some players this means doing an accountancy course at university. Others are linked into working for various businesses. With the average AFL player's career under five years, the AFLPA have a vital part to play in preparing them for life after sport. As an example, Essendon F.C. has a set day off training for all players. This allows them to schedule in work or study for that day. This day helps create a balanced approach to sport and life as well as preparing them for careers after footy.
Indigenous services: The AFL has a firm focus on supporting the players and families of players from indigenous backgrounds.
Player advocacy: An important part of the AFLPA involves working with the AFL and player managers in insuring the best conditions for the players. This covers everything from minimum pay awards to insurance and income protection for injured players.
The AFLPA are in full swing preparing for the January workshops with the newly drafted players. Once this is complete, it moves straight into supporting players and clubs in their preseason preparation: education on player health issues, planning career education for the year etc. The services offered reflect the nature of modern sport: that players are more than just physical specimens. They are people, and need to be cared for as whole people: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Well-Being Australian theologian reflects on a Bible passage that explains this important life lesson (Luke ch 2:vs 52), "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." As a boy, Jesus grew physically strong. He also grew in His ministry for God and to others. It demonstrates that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139) and that we must continue to grow in all areas of our lives: in our health and fitness, in our career, in our relationships with others, and with our relationship with God. Is it time to plan your "preseason" on how you can grow in these?