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Depression In Sport

This is a topic not often talked about and many athletes are afraid to admit that they suffer from depression for fear of being labelled ‘weak’, says life coach, writer and speaker, Myan Subrayan. He believes that many of the professional sports people that he has worked with share this same sentiment – and Subrayan has been around having worked in rugby, cricket, soccer, golf, swimming, netball and athletics. He believes that this sensitive and relevant topic is frequently swept aside in the professional sports environment. However, in his recent book on former Bafana Bafana star Delron Buckley, it is highlighted by Delron bravely sharing about his brush with depression whilst playing for Borussia Dortmund, in Germany.

Buckley says, “Myan started off as my writer 3-years-ago but ended up as my personal life coach and motivator. In fact, he helped me through another crucial part of my career, when it ended for me as a player. Having Myan to guide and counsel me through this tough time in any professional athlete’s career was so valuable. His advice to me was a light in what was a dark, unknown period of my life. Up until that time, I was not prepared for retiring from playing but having my life coach around made the transition easier. Just look at what happened to Wallaby, rugby star, Dan Vickerman, who sadly committed suicide because he struggled with the transition to retiring as a player. As a coach now and learning from Myan, I am wiser and advise my players to also plan ahead for life after playing.”

Subrayan also relates to Vickerman’s sad demise to highlight that depression is no ‘walk in the park’!

 “You go through periods of severe hopelessness, dejection, feelings of inadequacy and guilt. It is often so bad that you cannot get out of this ‘pit’ on your own. You need professional help. That is what I do as a life coach, which is to motivate and help people find their meaning and purpose for life. To show the athlete their value and to get them to appreciate all that they have achieved thus far. What is crucial is for the athlete to maintain and construct a life outside of sport and to face the inevitable that their playing careers will come to an end.”

Subrayan believes that part of the remedy is for the athletes to have a strong support structure around themselves outside of the sports world so that they don’t feel isolated and have people that they can talk to and share their feelings with. 

“Let’s be honest,” he says, “The professional sport scene is a pressure cooker environment which places not only players but also coaches and management under the gun. There is a lot of uncertainty in regards to performance, contracts, selection, injuries and expectations from fans and pressure from the media that they have to face.”

As a life coach Subrayan believes, his role is to be a sounding board to encourage people with their career, personal goals, and relationships and to offer sound advice that will benefit them.

* This article was supplied by Myan Subrayan who is a writer, speaker and life coach to sports teams and businesses. For more info on Myan, his work and his books you can visit www.myansubrayan.co.za. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter @myansubrayan

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