TOM Boyd wants to convey the importance of looking after mental well-being during a visit to the south-west.
The retired Western Bulldogs premiership player and mental health advocate will be an eager onlooker at Saturday's Hampden league clash between North Warrnambool Eagles and South Warrnambool as part of WorkSafe's Country Club Program.
Boyd will join Leon Cameron - his first AFL coach at GWS Giants - at Bushfield Recreation Reserve, along with former Australian Diamonds netball coach Norma Plummer.
Cameron, who played for South Warrnambool before he was drafted in the 1990s, is returning to familiar territory.
Fans are invited to sit down for a cuppa as part of WorkSafe's Safe-Tea Break initiative, which encourages farmers to take regular breaks on the job.
Boyd, a former AFL number one draft pick who played 61 games, will attend the Eagles' senior training on Thursday night.
"I love these trips, they're so much fun," Boyd, who will travel with fiancée Anna and baby daughter Armani, told The Standard.
Boyd, who played against North Warrnambool ruckman Nathan Vardy when he was at West Coast, said sharing his experience with mental health was humbling.
"A lot of people have said 'it must be hard' but I have never really found it difficult because I think for me my experience was so visceral in terms of the sheer affect my poor mental health was having on my life at the time," he said.
"For whatever reason, thankfully my message really resonates with some of the harder-to-reach areas, whether that be young men who are in construction who otherwise may not have exposure to the messaging you get at an AFL football club.
"It is really, really important that the connection between sport, the community and mental health is really strong.
"Community sports places are one of the most important pillars in a lot of young people's lives and trying to underlay the fact that looking after people physically is one thing but also making sure the community you're a part of is also capable of looking after people mentally is something I am really passionate about."
Boyd has teamed up with WorkSafe to help spread the word. There are six games on the schedule in 2022.
"The entanglement with me is trying to bring mental health in the workplace to the forefront which can be a really challenging thing to do, particularly in country towns where it might be predominantly construction or agriculture and the workplaces aren't as easy to access from WorkSafe's point of view," Boyd said.
Boyd is still aligned to VAFA club St Kevin's and plans to play this season.
The 2016 premiership player, who kicked three goals in the Bulldogs' drought-breaking win, said it was pleasing to see football back in full swing after two coronavirus-impacted seasons.
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