Kicking goals for mental health

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Kicking goals for mental health

The Limestone Coast sporting fraternity was treated to spectacular football action on Friday night at McDonald Park with the ‘switch the headspace’ mental health game played in front of a packed crowd of around 3000 people.

The night lived up to all expectations with ex-AFL players Dane Swan, Shane Mumford, Leon Davis and Jordan and Brodie Murdoch along with ex-North Gambier premiership coach Winis Imbi and local politicians and sporting identities taking the field for the special occasion.

The event opened with a traditional Welcome to Country by Tim Brennan, acknowledging elders past, present and future before emcee for the night Kevin Douglas introduced the event and outlined the significance of the match along with organisers Celeste Raymond, Adam Richards and Luke Thompson.

The scene was set for a great game with Pacific Ale winning the toss and electing to kick with the gentle breeze at the northern end of the ground.

Spectators erupted as the first bounce got proceedings underway and it was Pacific Ale that got an eary run to and score the first goal with a great tap out of the middle and a handball out which ricocheted to the ground, resulted in the first major.

The second tap out from Pale Ale gave the side a chance to put a score on the board, but it was intercepted by the opposition which took advantage to run down the outside wing and kick to the pack before the ball was brought to ground.

Pacific Ale was on top in the first quarter and looked to have the legs over Pale Ale, entering the first break with a solid lead and putting its opposition in a position to find ‘more hops’.

It was a similar story in the second quarter with Pacific Ale showing plenty of skill and run to use the ball better than Pale Ale, but a mini revival from the team in green found an extra spark and had the ball on a string late in the second term utilising plenty of rotations through the bench.

There was no shortage of banter between both teams at the main break, complete with a water fight to cool things down, but it was all in support of mental health.

After a much-needed thirst quencher with a dash of strategy it was back to action and Pale Ale was on a mission to chase down the lead held by Pacific Ale.

The green machine made use of its players who were able to create space and allow the ball to move freely while making Pacific Ale chase its tail for a while and run the players off their feet.

At the three-quarter time siren both teams were looking weary with the warm conditions taking a toll on the players. One of the organisers Adam Richards used the breather as an opportunity to take centre stage and have his long locks cut off in the name of charity – and having grown it for four years – it proved a good charity fundraiser.

Both teams were back at it for the final quarter and it was Pacific Ale who kicked the first goal from a long-bomb out of the middle and extended the lead, but Pale Ale had other ideas and the ball game was on.

Pale Ale was on the march with some great patches of play and hard tackling which left Pacific Ale’s game plan a little on the tispy side and the scoreboard lead changed hands many times, much to the delight of the crowd.

After four quarters of action in prime conditions it was a fairytale finish on the scoreboard, with both teams tallies locked together on the scoreboard before players mingled with the crowd, posing for photographs and signing autographs.

One player who took to the ground was ex-North Gambier premiership coach Winis Imbi, who has played a lot of football around the country including stints at the Essendon Bombers and North Melbourne along with many games of country football.

Imbi did not hesitate when asked to play for such a good community cause.

“(The decision) was reaffirmed as well when we were doing the smoking ceremony and I was a bit nervous playing again,” Imbi said.

“Then when I saw a dad crying who had lost his son to mental health, that put it all in perspective for me.

“It also gave me some perspective of what it is all about and it was special to have Dane Swan, Shane Mumford and Leon Davis here to make it extra special.

Imbi also spoke about the importance of checking in with mates and also speaking up if you are not okay and getting the help you need to get back on track.

“Mental health is an important thing these days and you just have to check in and ask your mate if he or she is okay.”

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