Tackle Your Feelings: Chad Cornes and Nathan van Berlo help community coaches with mental health training

Chad Cornes used to keep his emotions inside until they could stay inside no more.

Now wiser, he realises this approach got him nowhere and hopes to impart his knowledge on community AFL coaches.

Cornes was known for being a hardman during his stellar AFL career for Port Adelaide and then GWS, but said this approach to being vulnerable and how he felt came at a detriment.

“I was one of those guys who kept everything inside when I was playing and the older I get and the more exposure you have to being vulnerable and telling people how you are feeling the better you feel,” he said.

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“Footy players can be insular and not explain how they feel but the more we can get them doing this and get help when they need it the better they will be.

“When I was playing I used to bottle it up inside and keep bottling it up and then it would lead to some form explosion whether it was at training, at home or at the club so just keeping those thoughts inside back then got me nowhere looking back on it and if we had these programs back then where we could express our feelings most of us would be better off.”

It is why Cornes, now a development coach at Port Adelaide, jumped at the chance to get involved with the Tackle Your Feelings program, a free mental health training program developed by the AFLPA, AFLCA and Zurich Insurance.

Crows assistant and midfield coach Nathan van Berlo and Port Adelaide development coach Chad Cornes are ambassadors for assisting the "Tackle Your Feelings" program. Picture: Keryn StevensSource:News Limited

Along with new Adelaide assistant and midfield coach Nathan van Berlo, Cornes will be a local ambassador for the program and help deliver the program in SA along with the SANFL.

Cornes and van Berlo will help upskill community footy coaches with mental health training to better support community football clubs and will help participants understand mental health, recognise mental illness and assist with management.

Van Berlo said footy coaches at all levels had a big role to play.

“It is a great education tool for community coaches and looking back on the relationship you have with coaches when you were a kid, they were almost father figures to you, they play a really important role,” he said.

“We are not asking them to be a club doctor or club psychologist but just to be an ear or sounding board for them and point them in the right direction if they need it.”

Making Their Mark is an Amazon Prime documentary into the 2020 AFL season…

Making Their Mark is an Amazon Prime documentary into the 2020 AFL season

Cornes said he felt better after sharing with Port Adelaide players and coaches.

“I got up and told a few things I had never really spoken to a large group of people about,” he said.

“(I was) definitely vulnerable and it was nerve racking at the time but as soon as you have it out there and you understand the other boys have also gone through things and you didn’t know until you are vulnerable and you can help each other through it.

“Giving the community coaches the tools to help recognise and then help players deal with this is a great thing.

“No matter who you are, if you are an AFL player a community player or a SANFL player everyone has a story as Mark Williams used to say – everyone has a story you just don’t know it.

“So the more we can get people comfortable in getting help and talking about their feelings the better.”


Originally published asShowdown rivals team up for mental health support

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