Former Melbourne AFL footballer and ‘Fight for the real you’ participant Daniel Ward gave a presentation about responsible gambling and his own experience of battling a gambling addiction at Chelsea Football Club on Tuesday 13 August 2013.
The talk was close to home for the club, as one of its players, Matt Torcasio, was also a participant in the Foundation’s successful ‘Fight for the real you 100 Day Challenge campaign.
Matt believes that hearing firsthand about how gambling can affect your life can have a powerful influence on people.
“When you hear the story face-to-face of someone that has hit rock bottom and is now on the right track, it highlights what gambling can do and touches people a lot more,” said Matt.
“He (Ward) spoke openly and truthfully and I think it touched a few guys here tonight. The guys were listening and actually asking questions at the end - it means he got through to the guys,” said Matt.
Having experienced rock bottom himself, Matt was eager to note the invaluable support he received from his mates at the club.
“The football club have been good in providing me with support. Not all of the guys knew how bad of a gambler I was, so when the story came out they were surprised, but the support that they gave me has been amazing and helped me quite a lot,” said Matt.
Chelsea coach Paul Carbis says it was interesting for his team to hear a similar story to Torcasio’s from a higher level.
He believes the talk from Ward has further helped his club look for warning signs regarding problem gambling, and to be more conscious of some of the issues players may face off the field.
“We obviously have a relationship with Matt and know his story, but I think Daniel added to that especially about the warning signs to look out for,” said Mr Carbis.
“With the increase in availability and accessibility of gambling, I think it is eye opening for the players who are looking at themselves more closely to see whether they are heading down a similar path,” said Carbis.
“We hear a lot about drink driving and other issues, but since gambling promotion has increased, the clear message is to look out for your mates, and watch out for those warning signs. We have the ability as a football club to look out for each other,” said Carbis.
In recent years, Ward has shared his story of battling a gambling addiction with Victorian country grassroots football clubs to help raise awareness of the risks.
So far this year, his insightful talks have been given to Peter Jackson VFL clubs Williamstown and Box Hill Hawks in an expansion of the Foundation’s partnership with AFL Victoria.
The Foundation partners with AFL Victoria to help promote responsible gambling to young football players and local communities.