Photographer: Jon Hewson – Community News

In a WA basketball first, the Cockburn Basketball Association has partnered with Outside the Locker Room for a ‘whole of club’ welfare program.

Outside the Locker Room (OTLR) is an awareness, education and outreach program founded by former AFL player Jake Edwards for adolescents and adults on critical community issues.

With mental health at the forefront of the community’s mind, the Cougar Family considers this partnership as paramount to ensuring the well-being of the wider Cockburn community.

OTLR will work alongside both State Basketball League and WA junior Basketball League athletes and coaches through workshops, education and on-going professional support.

Senior level athletes will receive twenty-four seven access to support using the OTLR app – providing access to regional industry experts in areas of mental health, drugs, alcohol and domestic violence.

The program will be delivered by professionally trained community ambassadors, as well as health and social services experts – with a number of these trained ambassadors direct from the Cougar community.

Cockburn Basketball Association General Manager Tyrone Thwaites is proud of what the Cougar Family has achieved and insists it will ignite conversation amongst other WA clubs with a similar interest in community health.

“You can’t put a price on welfare, it’s as simple as that,” he said.

“The Cockburn Basketball Association is a proud family club that values more than just on court success.

“The welfare of our players, coaches, staff and volunteers is a massive priority, and with the success OTLR have had amongst the Aussie Rules community, we expect our partnership will spark a wave of awareness in the basketball community as well.”

WA junior basketball league athletes will get two seminars a year to educate them on the basics of mental health, drugs and alcohol.

“This is a wholistic club approach,” Thwaites said.

“The impact of this program is not selfishly for the Cougar Family, but ideally, will provide great community health outcomes for the wider basketball family.

“We are proud to pioneer this ‘whole of club’ space in basketball, with the hope other associations follow suit to provide their communities with the same bright outcomes.”