HOW I MAKE IT WORK...
SYDNEY SWANS CAPTAIN JOSH KENNEDY, 28, KNOWS SPORTING STARS CAN BUCKLE UNDER INTENSE EXPECTATIONS, ON THE FIELD AND OFF. HE TALKS ABOUT FINDING A HEALTHY BALANCE AND MAINTAINING A POSITIVE MENTAL OUTLOOK
AFL star Josh Kennedy talks mental health.
My earliest memories are of the first house I lived in growing up, and of our huge backyard. There were four kids in my family: three brothers and a sister. Then there were our cousins. We would all run around outside together, playing cricket or footy. These were like early lessons in connecting to others and being active, and they have stayed with me.
My dad was a professional AFL football player and my grandfather coached the [Hawthorn] Hawks to their first premiership. The men in my family approached sport in the right way: they found the right balance between their love of it and their family commitments.
Now I’m a father to a little boy, two-year-old Emilio. His birth has been such a positive, as it’s so important to have a life outside the game. It helps you keep things in perspective. My son will smile at me whether I have won, lost or had a draw.
There can be incredible pressure on and off the field. Every year there’s more scrutiny, far more than in my father’s day. Your personal life is constantly under the microscope on social media, and internally the club closely monitors your training data, diet and sleep.
This can be intense. And I don’t know that men outside sport monitor their own health enough. It’s important to stop, take a deep breath, reflect on where you are and adjust things if need be. More guys are starting to admit they’re not bulletproof and express how they’re feeling, but there’s always room to improve on learning how to reach out. I know my wife Ana would attest that I could.
Right now I am in a good place. I have a strong network of friends and am very close to my family. There’s also a solid base of support within the club. I’m more open to trying any type of mental or physical strategy that might help my performance on the field –
whether it’s meditation, golf or study. If something is out there, I’ll have a go.
I have a lot of eyes watching me: my teammates’, the Swans fans’, and now my wife’s and son’s, as well. Emilio is observing Ana and me. We want him to do as we do, not just as we say. It is a lot of responsibility, but I don’t let myself overthink it. I just try to be authentic. Josh is a Swisse AFL ambassador. Men’s Health Week runs from June 12–18, 2017; menshealthweek.org.au.