Mango is facing up to a hairy role
Cowboys legend Matty Bowen is growing out his bristol batons for a program very close to his heart.
Bowen and other rugby league stalwarts from around Queensland have joined the Movember Ahead of the Game program, a sports-based mental fitness and resilience training program which helps adolescent boys, their parents and coaches better deal with mental health issues.
Movember has worked with youth suicide prevention organisation ALIVE to adapt the face-to-face program into a new COVID-safe format, delivering it locally in partnership with Queensland Rugby League and it's U18 Mal Meninga Cup competition.
"When I first started playing, boys weren't that open to talking about stuff that they'd been struggling with off the field," said Bowen, coach of the Townsville Blackhawks U18 squad.
"You could pick up on how someone was doing by their body language, but now all the help is there.
"The more we can get on top of this stuff, the more it helps the younger generation. Sometimes it can be little things, like not getting picked in the team or not getting picked in representative sides.
"This program gives us (coaches) some more tools for dealing with issues like that."
ALIVE founder and CEO Tamsyn Rose said her team had observed a dramatic spike in young athletes' depression and anxiety levels during the COVID-19 affected footy season.
"For the young men in the Mal Meninga Cup, everything that they worked so hard for was taken away because of the restrictions," she said.
"For these young men to re-engage with each other through Movember Ahead of the Game is incredibly valuable."
Originally published as Mango is facing up to a hairy role