Dundee Madsons Basketball Club are hoping to slam dunk mental health stigma after appointing two well-being ambassadors.
The city club, which has existed in some form since 1964 and now boasts around 150 members, recently brought Rachael Anderson and Scott Brunton on board as mental health champions.
Working with players of all ages, parents Rachael and Scott, who have children of their own in the boys U/16 team, will undergo training in partnership with Basketball Scotland and SAMH (The Scottish Association for Mental Health).
After six to eight months, they will be fully qualified to tend to the needs of club members and will be ably assisted by ‘young well-being champions’ within the teams.
On #WorldMentalHealthDay, and with the help of our partners at @SAMHtweets, @SSF_2000, @CashBackScot and @TrueAthleteProj, we are excited to introduce an additional support for clubs – Wellbeing Ambassadors. pic.twitter.com/wxYNTl0kqy
— basketballscotland (@basketballscot) October 10, 2020
It’s a programme club chair Robin Paterson was delighted to enrol in.
He said: “It’s something that Basketball Scotland offered and we’ve had a couple of situations in the past where there’s been players who have struggled with mental health problems.
“In the past we didn’t know how to deal with things, we tried our best but we were just stumbling along blindly.
“We thought it was about time we actually knew what we were doing and had some sort of structure, so this project is the ideal thing.
“It was a no-brainer. We’re a totally inclusive club and we felt that having this expertise would be a big help.”
Coronavirus pandemic has put extra pressure on players
Amid the coronavirus pandemic and with all the club’s teams unable to train, Paterson believes the ambassador roles are even more crucial.
He added: “We had a small window in the autumn for the U/12s when the kids went back to school.
“The U/18s have been able to train but not compete against each other. It’s just been basic skill work.
“Since the lockdown in December there’s been absolutely nothing. The guys are chomping at the bit and desperate to get back.
“That doesn’t help the mental health side of it.
“We’ve players suffering quite badly, one of our star players in particular, because they’re missing a big time in their careers.
“The guys that play at elite level are missing out on a whole season of competition and for some of them there was the opportunity of playing at international level.
“That chance might have gone by now and they might never get that opportunity again.
“It has been pretty tough for the guys and the girls as well as the coaches. They’re missing being with each other and camaraderie, too.”
Paterson continued: “The coaches are keeping in touch with the kids and giving them tasks to do at home.
“Basketball’s not something you can do in your bedroom, usually, but you have to make do.
“There’s talk of an NBA 2K competition on the PlayStation, too.”
Madsons aiming to build people as well as athletes
Paterson is grateful to have extra hands to the pump in these tough times and hopes the support of Anderson and Brunton can help Madsons mould stronger people as well as athletes.
“It helps builds a bit more of a stronger committee,” he said.
“Normally it’s just myself and (club secretary) Heather (Rennie) who deal with these things in the club.
“To have a couple of parents willing to step up and take this on it helps people. A lot of players in the club will recognise them and know who they are.
“We have the young well-being champions as well to help out the younger members, which gives kids somebody their own age as an initial starting point.
“If they need some adult input, Rachael and Scott are there. It’s a great system.
“The training is six to eight months so it’s pretty intensive.
“It’s ongoing and it’s going to give the parents and kids some really valuable skills for the future, going into further education and work.
“Building the whole person is very much what we’re about and that’s why we have, within the club, some place for every kid to play at some level.”