Chauke weighs in on the importance of mental health in sports

Dumisani Chauke, the former Spar Proteas assistant coach and ambassador for Laureus has joined the mental health in sports conversation, urging more corporate companies to come on board in laying a helping hand to address it.

Sports can transform lives

Laureus is a global organisation that celebrates sporting excellence. It uses the power of sport to transform the lives of children and young people.

Chauke, who is the head of sports at the Tshwane University of Technology in Ga-Rankuwa campus, has played an integral role in Netball development at junior and senior level in South Africa.

Speaking to the media during the J.P Morgan Corporate Challenge race recently, Chauke said sports is an escape for many kids. She admitted that more corporates like J.P Morgan and Laureus should come on board in educating youth through sports.

Mental health is rife, needs attention

“It was refreshing to see young kids still interested in playing sports. As we do know that our country is going through what we call a rough patch. Especially when it comes to mental health and stuff like that with kids,” Chauke said.

“So, it’s good to see that we are still offering a safe haven for kids. Sport has become a safe haven for them to run to. Instead of getting involved in all sorts of other stuff out there.

“Through sports you are able to learn certain skills, whether it’s handling pressure, decision making or just being, you know, well-organised. And being able to plan ahead instead of getting overwhelmed and thinking everything is too much.”

Mental health remains a taboo in many communities until someone prominent, like a sports personality, suffers it.

Corporates need to come on board to fight the stigma

A typical example of a South African athlete who has had a tough time battling with mental health issues is Burnley striker. He is Lyle Forster, who is in the English Premier League. He  came out to express his struggles with mental health.

Chauke spoke on the importance of corporates helping spread the message about mental health in sports. She said corporate involvement will help young athletes prepare for the real world.

“It’s critical [that more corporates get involved in fighting mental health]. Because some of the benefits of sports include the psychological and emotional benefits,” she added.

Impact of Covid-19

“As you know, sponsorships in some sports have declined over the years, especially post Covid-19.

“Corporates are not always just willing to whip up their wallets. So, the little help that we do get from those corporates that support us, we appreciate it.

“And sport also teaches you how to handle pressure. So, it’s important for corporates to assist us in getting our young athletes prepared for the real world.”

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