NZ Rugby World
RUGBY GREAT SAM WHITELOCK IS THE AMBASSADOR FOR NATIONWIDE, RURAL WELLBEING PROGRAMME FARMSTRONG. HE TALKED TO NZ RUGBY ABOUT THE ROLE.
What is Farmstrong?
Farmstrong helps farmers and growers to cope with the ups and downs of farming. It shares the things farmers can do to look after themselves and the people in their business. Our aim is to help them live well to farm well.
How does it work?
Farmstrong encourages farmers to ‘invest’ in their wellbeing during good times so they have something to ‘draw on’ when times are challenging. The main idea is that to run a sustainable business you need to look after your most important asset – you, your family and your team. Developing habits that boost your wellbeing is the key to this.
What sorts of things can farmers do?
Farmstrong promotes the Five Ways to Wellbeing. These are simple habits that increase people’s wellbeing and help them get through challenges of a physically and mentally demanding job. Things like staying in touch with mates, keeping active and exercising, enjoying simple pleasures, learning new things, and giving back to friends and community.
This is where things like rugby can really help. Getting off farm and going along to your local footy club, whether it’s to play, coach kids or just watch a game and catch up with mates, ticks a lot of those boxes.
You come from a farming background yourself, don’t you?
Yes, I grew up in Linton, a small country town in the Manawatu, on a dairy farm. Our upbringing was very much like any other country kids. We were pretty rough and ready round the edges. It was full on, with four boys under five. I went to Feilding High then came down to Lincoln University and met my wife Hannah on my first day. That’s when my rugby really took off. I ended up playing for Canterbury and in the space of 12 months I went from playing club rugby to starting for the All Blacks. I still don’t know how or why it happened but I’m really happy that it has. It’s been awesome and I’m still enjoying it now at 33.
Why did you get involved in Farmstrong?
I know from having grown up on a farm that farmers are often great at looking after their stock and pasture but, sometimes, not so good at looking after themselves. Mum and Dad have been farming for 35 years and I saw some of the pressures they faced in farming, including an outbreak of Salmonella in the dairy herd years back. They learnt how to roll with the punches to a point, but I think it’s much harder for those who are just a few years into farming. Thinking about that made me decide that Farmstrong was a great initiative to be a part of.
What does your role involve?
Over the last few years, I’ve been involved in a range of activities. I’ve attended community events like Fieldays, taken part in online sessions for farmers sharing insights from top-level sport and contributed to the resources Farmstrong produces.
What have you enjoyed about it?
What I like about Farmstrong is that it’s been shaped by farmers for farmers so it’s very practical. It’s based on the experience of farmers themselves who