Following on from yesterday’s blog which revealed that Grangetown Netball Club’s amazing Prem 1 squad will be getting involved in raising raise mental health awareness over the forthcoming months, I have one further netball-related “challenge” – and I’m definitely going to need to ask for some help.
Within the 100 challenges I completed between 2014 and 2018 were a number that came under the general heading of “meeting” … meeting someone: someone born on the same day as me, a primary school classmate, an Olympic gold medallist, a punk legend, a Coronation Street actor, my local MP, someone who has had a no.1 record, a Rio 2016 medallist – and so the list goes on.
Arranging to meet someone you either don’t know or haven’t seen for 30 or more years can take a huge amount of planning, and often a considerable amount of driving … whilst the actual meeting might take anything from a couple of hours to a matter of minutes.
That said to have the opportunity to spend any length of time in the company of someone who has achieved something remarkable, or someone with whom you have any sort of past connection is genuinely special… moments that can create lasting memories (and in some cases even friendships).
And when someone who (as an example) can show you a small case containing an Olympic gold medal would rather talk about your reasons for wanting to raise mental health awareness, than their own incredible exploits on the track … well that is the very definition of humbling.
So, on the basis that Grangetown Netball Club’s Prem squad will be helping me to try and show that it is fine to talk openly about mental health and ask for help if you’re struggling, I thought it would be a nice idea to maintain a netball theme for the 2019 version of this kind of challenge: “to meet six Super League or international netballers”.
Not just any six though … I could do that by attending almost any Grangetown Prem 1 fixture. To make it a proper challenge, six names will be picked at random from a list of 50 outstanding athletes (although it could have easily been 100 or more), and my task is then to try and arrange to meet them at some point during 2019.
On the right is the alphabetical (by first name) list – there are four current players from each Super League team, a few overseas-based internationals and a couple of high profile former internationals.
There are some obvious problems. There are no Super League clubs anywhere near Middlesbrough … some of the players are based abroad … and perhaps the biggest obstacle of all is that meeting me is likely to be at the bottom of anyone’s “to do” list – but I suppose if it was easy, then it wouldn’t be a challenge.
I have asked Becky Oatley (who I have already had the pleasure of meeting), The Netball Show (Andy Lamb) and Courtside Comments if they would pick two numbers each between 1 and 50. I have used a random number generator to shuffle the list, so they would have no idea who they were selecting.
In numerical order, these are the six numbers that were chosen: 7, 21, 24, 37, 42 and 46 … and with a suitably dramatic drum roll, the corresponding players (to whom I apologise unreservedly in advance) are: Maryka Holtzhausen, Tamsin Greenway, Kathryn Turner, Rachel Dunn, Lindsay Keable and Maria Folau.
The serious aspect to all of this is that I will not be able to arrange anything without asking for help. I’ve suffered from a chronic form of thankfully mild depression for over 40 years, and I wouldn’t be coping anywhere near as well as I do if I hadn’t gone to my GP … and asked for help.
To some degree I am affected every single day by my condition, but I’m loved, supported and most of the time, I’m strong enough to fight. My life changed the day I first spoke to my GP: please never be afraid to ask for help…