The Peel Football and Netball League (PFNL) has seen an array of nail-biting rounds so far this season, but on Sunday, May 9, two rival clubs came together to host a game for a cause that hit close to home for many of their members. The Waroona Demons and the Pinjarra Tigers met on Waroona's home turf to compete in their annual mental health round, a tradition that has now been carried out for five years.
Demons president Shane Della Franca previously told the Mail that the clash "gives both clubs the opportunity to talk about mental health and get experts in to speak to all the players." Pinjarra coach Craig Milward said the lead up to the game was just as important as the game itself for raising awareness.
"It's widely reported that men sometimes struggle to verbalise their feelings. Both clubs have been touched by mental health," Milward said. "During training leading up to this round we talked extensively about the importance of expressing feelings and asking your mates if they're okay."
In 2020, Pinjarra lost one of their ex-players to mental health, and the team played last year's round in his honour.
The sun came out for the May 9 clash, making the weather conditions "perfect" for a game of footy. "The day and the game were great. The weather was perfect and this particular round always carries this extra feeling," Milward said. "We battle on the field and it's fierce, but this day is about two teams playing for a common element that they are both passionate about."
While the teams were fierce on the field, Milward said their after-game routine was a different story.
"When we finished the game, we went into the Waroona change room for a beer and a chat.
"Pinjarra and Waroona have a long history, and the moment the final siren sounds we shake hands and like to socialise together."
Article appeared in the Mandurah Mail 10 May by Samantha Ferguson
GP down south is an exemplary not-for-profit community organisation. We have been providing health and wellbeing services in the Peel regions and the South West of WA since 1994.