The eyes of Australian football fans will be on Optus Stadium in Perth this Saturday when the Dees take on the Bulldogs for a shot at AFL premiership glory.
But grand final week isn't just an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the code's best players.
It's also a time to reflect on the important role that footy - and all sports, for that matter - play in the lives of young Australians.
Sporting participation not only keeps young people's bodies active; it's a meaningful way of looking after their mental health and wellbeing too, creating opportunities for strong social and community connections.
With more than two million young Australians participating in organised sport every week, grass roots clubs are uniquely positioned to deliver mental health messages to young people.
Never has the importance of community sport been more pronounced than during its absence over the past two years.
In 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced leagues in many parts of Australia to temporarily suspend competition or abandon their seasons altogether.
More than half of young people surveyed in last year's headspace National Youth Mental Health Survey reported the pandemic had impacted their ability to participate in sport - which, like attending school, is a major protective factor that supports good mental health and wellbeing.
Valuing the capacity of community sports to bolster young people's wellbeing, headspace has partnered with the AFL since 2020 to assist players at all levels to lead strong, resilient and happy lives - because everyone in our community has a role to play in supporting young people's mental health journeys.
Together with the AFL, headspace is working to encourage young players, their families and their friends to know the signs of mental ill-health, to understand the things they can do to support their wellbeing, and to access professional support when needed.
We want to equip all young players, coaches and volunteers with tools to manage their mental fitness, and be able to support their clubmates to do the same.
We want clubs and communities to know when to ask for help and that headspace and other services are there to support them.
That's what headspace is barracking for this weekend, and will continue to champion for seasons to come.
For support, get in touch with one of headspace's 139 centres or connect with online and telephone counselling service, eheadspace.
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