October 2020

Goodwood Saints

What we did

Goodwood Saints is more than just a footy club, it is part of the community. The “Saints Healthy Minds” initiative is a comprehensive program involving the whole Club with the aim of helping its players and the community around them build their mental strength and understand mental health issues.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all activities for the Goodwood Saints Football Club’s 21 teams were immediately suspended. However, the Club applied and extended the key philosophies of its “Healthy Minds initiative” to respond to and deal with COVID-19 restrictions.

The club maintained a strong sense of connectedness with players, members, parents and supported community wellbeing and mental health through a range of activities:

  • Community: Goodwood Oval was a beacon of fresh air and open space for the local community, the scoreboard was programmed reminding the community to keep 1.5m apart.
  • Communication: Club President Craig Scott was appointed COVID Safe officer, completing the COVID Safe plan, engaged with SANFL, and ensured the Club’s plans were widely communicated.
  • Support: Players welcomed the news that training could resume from May 18, and the club has promoted and complied with social distancing restrictions, hygiene, and attendance restrictions according to SANFL Return to Play guidelines. See the video below.
  • Action: Mental health courses were supported throughout the season. Particular examples are:
    • U18 Girls Team Mental Resilience Training: U18s is always a tough year for the girls even without having to deal with a global pandemic. Coach Dan Scott introduced a range of initiatives including a weekly video segment, weekly wellbeing journals and “Triple H” chats.
    • Breakthrough Mental Health Training: 11 people were put through a 2 day Mental Health first aid course.

A positive, resilient attitude, great engagement with our dedicated volunteers and clear consistent communication has been our success in the 2020 season.

Why we did it

As an inclusive and socially responsible club, Goodwood Saints FC have a number of community and wellbeing initiatives to serve our community. In particular “Saints Healthy Minds” is a comprehensive initiative that targets our coaches and mangers to assist them in identifying those with mental health issues. Its long-term goal is to help our players build their mental strength, to empower them to speak out and to understand mental health issues and suicidal tendencies.

The “Saints Healthy Minds” initiative emerged from an annual Bennett Sparrow / David Baker Beyond Blue Match in which our club played Tea Tree Gully FC. This game was played in memory of Bennett Sparrow who played for TTG and David Baker who was an assistant coach at the Saints from 95 – 98, who both committed suicide.

The Club decided that one day a year wasn't enough to make a difference and a broader initiative was required to implement prevention strategies and equip our players and staff with the necessary skills to identify mental health issues and more importantly to provide an atmosphere where those who are struggling feel comfortable to speak out.

Goodwood Saints press

How we know it worked

The players, coaches and managers of Goodwood Saints FC are the immediate targets for the “Saints Healthy Minds” initiative and how it was extended to support the Club’s response to COVID-19. We have approx. 430 junior players, 110 senior players and 2000 members.

One of the clear goals of this initiative is to strengthen the mental health of the Goodwood Saints FC community. We do not have any quantitative data to substantiate outcomes, however we know it makes a difference due to the widespread positive feedback the Club receives from parents, staff and players.

The Club has had numerous players speak to its President, Craig Scott, about the love and caring culture that the club has as a result of what we do and the way we go about giving our players the education to cope, identify and call for help.