Mental health highlighted in campaign

Richard Kinley
Richard Kinley
Faced with a challenging year, rugby in Otago has bounced back well and there is good interest in the community game and good connections throughout it.

The Otago Rugby Football Union is staging a Tackle the Struggle campaign this week centred around making sure everyone involved in the game is working hard on mental health and making it a priority.

ORFU general manager Richard Kinley said the community game was going extremely well and he said the clubs had worked very hard to get everything working well.

"We had no idea there for a good while whether we would even have community rugby, whether we would get a season," Kinley said.

"The staff here and a whole lot of volunteers spent about six weeks working through all the procedures and programmes we would have to carry out for the game.

"Although in the end we didn’t need it, it was real way to get everyone together and stay connected, and it can be used in the future."

Kinley said crowds at matches appeared to have increased from the past few years.

He had visited some clubrooms and there was a good atmosphere in all of them.

"Sport in the community plays an important part. With rugby having 33 clubs spread out through the province, rugby and the clubs really adds to the whole environment

"I think, particularly out in the country areas, playing in the weekend and the game in the weekend, pulls the community together.

"People want to get back out together and socialise and one way they can do that is through their club."

The mental health campaign is set to cover the week.

One highlight will be at St Clair Beach on Friday morning.

Players and administrators are welcome to attend the beach at 7.30am and, if willing, can go in and take a plunge or experience "salt-water therapy" as it is known.

The week will end with a sock swap to acknowledge the campaign before the match between the University and Kaikorai premier sides at the University of Otago Oval on Saturday.

The campaign is being run in conjunction with University of Otago mental health awareness group Silverline.

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