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Going Beyond the Field of Play at Worthing College

16 March 2021

The impact of Covid-19 on the mental health and wellbeing of young people has been in the spotlight in recent weeks.

And at Worthing College, sports lecturers have been drawing on the experiences of local sportsmen & alumni who have overcome adversity or faced mental health challenges in a series of Vodcasts (video podcasts) to help students who were struggling.

David Hall, Deputy Head of Learning & Men’s Football Head Coach at Worthing College, approached various sporting people including personal trainer Craig Peters, endurance athlete & alumni Russ Cook as well as former college students Brad Parker and Adam Bardouleau and recorded unscripted – and at times unflinchingly honest – conversations about the challenges they have faced.

They form part of a series called ‘Beyond the Field of Play’ and the aim was to provide motivational inspiration to students who had been finding it tough during the most recent national lockdown as well as what they can continue to do moving forward.

David explains: “One of our academy players had noticed that some of the other players were struggling a little, but didn’t want to speak up about how they were feeling so we produced an anonymous ‘wellness’ survey – something that is done regularly at professional sport level.

“The results were clear that some were struggling with motivation, so we reached out to some really inspirational people who we felt could give some great advice to our students and players and who were relatable to them.

“We just talk, nothing is scripted or prepared – it is very conversational and provides an open forum.

“It’s vitally important to talk about mental health and to be open about it, but a lot of young men can feel a pressure not to talk or to bottle things up so by talking openly and honestly, hopefully that’s something our students can relate and respond to.”

Craig Peters – also known as the ‘burpee guy’ – faced significant challenges seven years ago. At 20 weeks into their pregnancy, their twins were diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome which meant they had to undergo emergency laser surgery with the possibility of losing one or both of their twins.

Fortunately, the procedure was successful and Craig has gone on to raise thousands for St George’s Hospital to help fuel research into the condition. He also speaks regularly to young people, providing inspiration.

He said: “Our younger generations have had their learning and development put on hold for longer than anyone ever anticipated.

“Many are probably feeling a bit lost, confused, and perhaps unsure about their future. This generation includes future politicians, sports stars, environmentalists, and other key influencers.

“We can’t underestimate the potential within this group that needs nurturing. This is why I wanted to do that talk. I’ve been at my version of rock bottom before, feeling lost and alone. But through the power of sport and fitness, I was able to spin it on its head and come out the other side. I believe we are capable of anything – the most powerful tool in the world is our brain.

“And using the power of it will be crucial for our youngsters as they come out the other side of this experience and use it as a foundation to build a bright and prosperous future.”

Brad Parker, a former Worthing College rugby player who has experienced mental health issues in the past, was keen to share his story.

He said: “I wanted to do this podcast with Dave to spread a bit of a positive message to students who are in a position I have been, both mentally and at the college.

“Success in life comes from finding out who we are and realising life is happening for us, not to us, so to not panic and trust the process coming from someone who has proved this.”

It’s a sentiment two other former Worthing College students share. Adam Bardouleau, who is now a teacher, and Russ Cook, who is the first person to run solo from Asia to London in 68 days – essentially running a marathon every day.

Adam revealed: “Currently the situation is difficult for all but especially young people, who not only are unsure of where their future lies but motivation on how and when they will get there.

“Continuing to raise awareness of mental health and help to try remove the stigma attached to it is paramount. By sharing my experiences if that could help one person, then my job is done. It’s trying to normalise the topic in society – it’s okay to not be okay!”

Russ added: “I can relate to how difficult it is to carve out your own path as a student/young adult. Dave and the sport department at the college do so much in providing the right guidance on and off the field I’m always more than happy to help in the small ways I can.”

To view these inspirational vodcasts, please visit: