Coronavirus and sport

April 2021

Ella M. – 16 years old, Ballarat, Victoria

As a young person that enjoys sports and gets my daily dose of happiness from sports, the coronavirus had more of an impact on me than I initially realised it did. The impact became evident when I was finally allowed to go to hockey again. Only allowed to take with me my hockey stick, mouthguard, and drink bottle (by hand) as we were not permitted to bring whole hockey bags into the pitch with us was a wakeup call to reality. Not to mention the awaiting COVID officers as you walk in the entry gate. Whether I am scanning a barcode or getting my name and number taken down is a feeling that is now starting to be familiar to me. I am sure I am not the only one to say that last year, the year 2020 feels fake. Like we missed a whole chapter of life because somehow the year was so long, and at the same time so short that I am unable to pinpoint any actual memories but together as a whole we have all grown and learnt new ways to deal with situations. Can t go to school? Just join online. Can t go to gym? Join a zoom and workout from home.

The things that got me through last year was being spontaneous and deciding that for myself I want to start making a difference as big as I possibly could. I signed up for a program that was once in person but now via zoom calls. The Western Bulldogs Youth Leadership Project. I learned that through one opportunity out came another and soon I was and still am now extremely happy to call myself a member of The Regional Sport Victoria Youth Advisory Committee, A YAK as we like to call ourselves. This committee has allowed me to share my opinions and have a voice in youth in sport, the challenges as youth that we all face and how we can overcome and surpass these challenges, but alongside some amazing people that I have grown to anticipate finally meeting in person.

Together we have all had our own opinions and different things to add to each call. Personally, a big part of my opinion is based off mental health and how sport can help youth overcome hard challenges and grow stronger into something they enjoy doing. As I have learnt over the past 8 years your sporting team/ club really becomes family. It makes me happy to say the amazing and absolutely incredible number of people that playing hockey has given me the opportunity to connect with has provided me with some of my best friends, and some people I wish to stay in my life for a very long time. Safe to say that my hockey family has helped me overcome almost every challenge I have faced and sometimes the challenges we are able to overcome together. From big grand final games and even hopeful preliminary finals, where together we all anticipate winning in order to play the next round of finals. My friends are there for me through the absolute thick and thin and I would not trade them for all of the world.

Mental Health is something that shouldn t be and is rarely ever taken lightly. It is scary and it is upsetting but having seen others in suffering, delt with things myself and mourned with others has guided me to a new light showing that the right people, the people you trust and who love and care about you are the most comforting people. They help you feel safe but also tell you how it is and sometimes shed some tough love which I have learned can be the best thing for some situations. I think the connection with the people that have helped me the most is not only our shared passion but our similar goals too.

It is a different love between friends from school and friends from sport. Equally both as strong as eachother but to me it is the love that we have seen eachother grow in learning how to play sport, playing our first games together and finishing our years as junior players together that makes the love so strong. I know I am always free of judgement when I am at hockey and I can enjoy every moment.

Hockey has become a second home to me, and my friends have become a second family to me. It feels special to have an amazing and supportive second family like my hockey family and I am glad to say the relationships I have with each individual are the ones I am going to take with me through life.