The Salvos put Tey on the winning side, and now he is leading others to victory.
Five years ago, my depression and anxiety led me to drug abuse. The situation really isolated me. I felt very alone, and I didn’t have any confidence
I was 10 years old when I took up football and I played until I was 18, when things took a bit of a downward spiral and I lost touch with the game. I never thought I’d play again.
I got clean but things were pretty raw. I didn’t have many friends. But a fortunate introduction to a Salvos Hawks player at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting led to a significant step in my recovery. Everything happens for a reason—I was asked to join the club and just continued to come, enjoying the games and camaraderie.
The Salvos Hawks is a suburban Aussie Rules team of male and female players who are mainly recovering or have recovered from addiction. It is funded through The Salvation Army and sponsored by Reclink Australia, Rotary Hawthorn and private and corporate donors. The management of the Program is through SalvoCare Eastern Homelessness and Support Services, with the support of volunteers who help with umpiring, first aid and other roles.
The benefits of this program are invaluable. It has brought me not just connection and a place of belonging, but a commitment to others as well. I initially focused on my own problems and struggles, but I found that when I’m on the football field with fellow players I’m taken outside of myself.
Over the last five years, I’ve undertaken more and more responsibility with the team by volunteering to coach and support the other players. It’s important for me to pay it forward and support the younger guys coming through—it keeps the flames burning.
I’m now the Salvos Hawks assistant coach and administrator, training the players and working on tactics—and even picking up boots! And now I’m working towards an AFL qualification as a Level One Coach.
So much is going in the right direction for me. I’m getting my life back, I’ve now got a job working for the Salvos as recreation coordinator and I am volunteering in another program supporting young addicts going through recovery. My partner and I recently became engaged and travelled to Sri Lanka.
I don’t think I could have pictured myself this way five years ago. I wouldn’t have thought this was possible. It’s a part of my life—I really enjoy it and have no plans to stop.
As told to Ciska Burrie