When The Armidale School and Sydney Grammar First XVs meet in the first round of the AAGPS Third Grade rugby competition this Saturday (17 June), each will be playing for victory – but both will also kicking goals for mental health.
The two schools share an association with batyr, an organisation that focuses on preventative education in the area of youth mental health – and as part of batyr’s One Sock One Goal campaign players on both teams will wear a polka-dot sock to express that it’s OK to talk about the tough issues.
While the special socks might be most visible on the rugby fields at TAS, they will also be worn by students playing netball, hockey and football around town.
As part of ‘the Batyr round’, Old boy and former Wallaby Jamie Holbeck, an advocate for mental health and wellbeing, will speak with different groups across the school on Thursday and Friday and present the First XV with their jerseys before the Grammar match.
“Adolescence is a particular challenging time for the mental health of young people, and the visit provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on what we can do and say to stay positive and give support to others,” TAS Director of Pastoral Care Mr Barney Buntine said.
“Before each game, teams will gather to reflect on the importance on wellbeing, with the core message for this occasion being to celebrate the relationship between physical and mental health.”
TAS and Grammar will compete in 11 rugby fixtures from the 13s to Opens, culminating with a highly anticipated clash between the schools’ First XVs at 11.30am.
“This is always a highly regarded fixture between two genuine First Fifteens from schools with a similar sized rugby program. Grammar will be focused and fit and it’s a game both teams need to win,” coach Mr Alan Jones said.
While TAS has had two competition wins to date, Grammar has dropped a game to a highly favoured St Joseph’s Third XV, who TAS is yet to meet.
“Joey’s is the team we all need to beat and we’re just fortunate that we don’t meet them until later in the draw – so we can’t afford to lose this match, and all the boys know what they have to do to have a shot of a win this weekend,” Jones said.