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The Toongabbie Tigers feature in the new NRL State of Mind television commercial encouraging Australians to support each other and be there for an offload.

As a State of Mind-recognised club that is actively involved in the mental health space, the Tigers - based in the Parramatta district - were seen as a fitting choice to appear in the latest campaign.

The tragic death of a club member six years ago sparked president Daryn Wilson to engage with the State of Mind grassroots program.

After a four-step process, including educational workshops and a mental health action plan, the Tigers have kept setting an example.

"They went through the [State of Mind] program in 2016, were recognised in 2017 and ever since then they've really invested in the game's messaging in and around State of Mind," said Raiders legend Alan Tongue, a State of Mind program deliverer.

"Whether it be posters, logos, jerseys, banners, Daryn and all the club have been great. Not only with the education of staff and the administration throughout the club but also doing an annual State of Mind Round to get in expert partners ... to share their resources.

Toongabbie Tigers president Daryn Wilson estimates that about 30 percent of the club's 450 registered players are female.
Toongabbie Tigers president Daryn Wilson estimates that about 30 percent of the club's 450 registered players are female.

"Delivering the message to their juniors as well; going back and doing more education workshops with the younger kids coming through.

"It's just been great to have them as a part of the TVC that we've just created and the campaign that it's about."

The culturally diverse Tigers field teams from under-6s to A Grade including several women's sides. Wilson estimates that about 30 percent of the club's 450 registered players are female.

They had planned their annual State of Mind Round for last Saturday - including specially-designed jerseys, representatives from mental health organisations in attendance and fun kids activities like a jumping castle - but it was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

While Toongabbie are hopeful of holding the event later in the season, they at least benefitted from Get in the GAAME workshops, hosted by Clinton Toopi, aimed at 13-17-year-olds early last week.

"We've always got the [State of Mind] signage up at the ground, but once a year for a consolidated week we then push the message out there," Wilson said of his club's involved approach.

"Because it's like emails - sometimes you get too many and they become like white noise. We try and consolidate it to week one. We always have a general reminder or have some brochures out.

"We lost a good clubman. He wasn't just a clubman, he was a coach, a trainer, a volunteer. But more importantly, he was someone's partner and he was four kids' father," Wilson added.

To Wilson, community rugby league is "not just about football". He wants to dissolve the stigma of mental ill-health and hopes Tigers players leave the club armed with life skills and the knowledge they have mates who are receptive to tough conversations.

And that's what the concept of pushing up for an offload is all about: being ready to have a proper chat with a friend. As the State of Mind campaign states, "one offload can change a game, a season, a life."

"Just like a game of footy, we're encouraged to push and to support. No one goes out alone," Tongue said.

"Our message is around being there for our teammates for that offload. I think it's a really important message and a timely one too. We know in rugby league and in life that it does get tough, it does get challenging, we get put in some difficult situations.

"We've had past campaigns of turning downtime into mate time, we've talked about not staying on the sidelines, it's not weak to speak.

"But this one is about being there and having that tough conversation, reaching out to your teammates, finding that safe space and having that confidence to be able to offload.

"We know it's really, really important that we stay connected. Sometimes we've got to be physically distant, but we don't have to stay socially distanced – we can still stay connected."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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