Hussey on the challenges facing all athletes

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The peak representative body for all Australian athletes, the Australian Athletes Alliance (AAA), recently held their 2nd annual athlete board meeting in Melbourne to discuss the key issues affecting athletes across Australia.

Michael Hussey, representing the ACA, joined other athletes and Player Association CEO's to discuss professional development, transition, mental health and wellbeing, female sport and the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement's in cricket and AFL.

Hussey said that there was tremendous interest regarding the agreements as many associations were heading into their own negotiations themselves.

"Initially there was a lot of discussion on the MOU for cricket, as some of the other sports are entering into their own collective bargaining discussions," Hussey said.

"It was interesting to listen from a cricket perspective how the other associations handle certain situations and issues along the way.

"The strength of player unity came through quite strongly as well, and how important that was in the scheme of things.

"The other codes were able to get some good insight into how the cricket agreement played out, which was important for them."

Hussey said that it was valuable to get so many high-class players in the room, to get a broad understanding of the major issues affecting sport.

Athletes joining Hussey included; Nat Medhurst (netball), Christian Welch (rugby league), Joe Ingles (basketball), Laura Hodges (basketball), Dean Mumm (rugby union), Brad Sewell (AFL), Daisy Pearce (AFLW) and Clint Bolton (football).

It was vital that athletes continued to share their experiences collaboratively, in order to gain the best outcomes for all sports, according to Hussey.

"I think women's sport is becoming much more prominent as well in the community, so a number of issues came out there," Hussey said.

"And for all professional athletes, the transition phase from moving out of sport and into the real world was something consistently coming through.

"It's a great idea having a AAA concept, as a lot of these issues cross-over across the different codes and different sports, and there are certainly lessons to be learned from that."

The complex relationship between professional development, transition and mental health was another key topic of discussion, and laid the foundations for important discussions across the day.

"We have seen plenty of examples in recent times of how athletes have struggled with mental health side of things, so it is obviously a current issue.

"It is also difficult for athletes to want to think about life after sport.

"All your efforts and energies are being put into being the best athlete you possibly can, sometimes athletes just worry about life after sport when they get there.

"We [Player Associations] are trying to change that mentality and trying to educate the players on how important it is to be planning ahead, because your sporting life is such a small part of your whole life.

"The ones who have had success both as an athlete but also in life after sport have been the ones who have been able to find that balance, by preparing for life after their sport as well as preparing for playing sport."

Hussey said the experience was valuable, and vital, going forward.

"By having everyone from the different sports in the same room, sharing different ideas is helpful in itself.

"But by having that collective of all athletes together gives a lot of clout in the community and with administrators, because it is not just coming from just one sport, it is coming from all of the athletes from around Australia, which is powerful."