Sporting minds: Rugby, mental health and team support
Our Sporting Minds mental health awareness month continues with stories from Team UOP member's. These honest and frank stories are an example of how sport and physical activity can play a part in improving mental health. We want to raise awareness for these stories and of the issues they look to challenge. These personal stories are powerful and should start up conversations between you and your friends, family and team-mates. We have also supplied a number of resources below if you are affected by this story.
Zac is a proud UOP Rugby Club member and is studying and MSc in Sports Management, this is his story.
'Rugby societies at University have a lot of negative preconceptions and stereotypes which can paint them in a bad light. One which isn't spoken about enough is the brotherhood aspect of the sport.'
Back in January 2017, when I was a fresher at university, my father passed away unexpectedly which was a surprise to everyone at the time. My mother and sister came down and picked me up from my university accommodation the next day and took me home for 2 weeks for me to be with my family. This had a massive impact on everything. Returning to university, my attendance decreased, my grades dropped, and I'm not a massive fan of crying but once I've had a beer oh my did I cry my eyes out. Understandably, I wasn't feeling myself and being away from my family was tough for the rest of the term.
However, despite feeling that a massive part of me was taken away. Rugby was one thing that took my mind away from all these feelings. It's not just the training and matches that took my mind away from things, it was the support network around me which really lifted me back up and on my feet. Specifically, the old boys I was close with were incredible. They gave me so much support and sacrificed so much time and efforts to be with me and pick me up when I was down. This is where the concept of 'UPRFC family' really comes into play.
It's all about supporting one another, and enjoying university together despite all the bumps in the road ahead. Slowly, my grades and attendance improved, I started feeling more like myself and I have the UPRFC family and my old boys to thank for that.
My advice for anyone who grieves during their time at university is:
- Don't be afraid to talk about how you feel, especially when you're feeling low.
- Take time off to spend with your family, there is no right amount of time but find a balance where your grades won't plummet from doing so.
- Join a university society so you can have a UPRFC family of your own! It doesn't have to be rugby, but there will be times at university when you need support and for me, rugby was the best place to find it.
The one feeling you don't want to feel is that you're alone, and having that family away from home will ensure that you will never have that feeling.'
Rugby societies at University have a lot of negative preconceptions and stereotypes which can paint them in a bad light. One which isn't spoken about enough is the brotherhood aspect of the sport.