Maintaining physical and mental health is not always a priority for men living in rural Western Australia, but the Bruce Rock Football Club is hoping to change that through the launch its 2018 nude calendar.
More than 30 players of all shapes and sizes have braced the winter elements and stripped-off to raise funds and awareness for Wheatbelt Men’s Health (WMH).
The calendar was planned as a club fundraiser but the motivation behind the project quickly changed after a cancer scare rocked the group.
At just 28-years of age, player Matt Gilbert was forced to the sidelines to undergo surgery after finding a lump on his left testicle.
“I felt a lump and went and got it looked at and was told that there was an extremely high chance that it was cancer,” Matt said.
“I’ve got a two-year-old and my wife is pregnant so me getting better was the number one priority.
“I had to put everything on hold - business and footy all got put on the sidelines – and within a week of getting it seen by the doctors I was on the operating table and got it removed.”
Soon after the operation, Matt and his family received the welcome news that the tumour was non-cancerous and he was soon on the road to recovery.
He said although many men were uncomfortable talking about their health, diagnosing potential problems early was paramount.
“Don’t sit on your hands and wait for something to be painful, drastically overgrown or wrong, go and get it looked at and check your body,” he said.
“Hopefully the calendar can bring about a sense of blokes looking after one another and themselves and making sure that health is important, it does need to be a priority.”
Bruce Rock league coach Leigh Strange said Matt’s experience was a wake-up call for the rest of his teammates, who were affected by his experience.
Leigh said the Magpies made the decision to direct their efforts towards promoting WMH, to empower men to take responsibility for their well being.
“We’ve probably got a tendency as a sporting group filled full with young men to think we’re 10 foot tall and bulletproof, mentally and physically,” he said.
“I think that something such as this really brings that message home, we’re not bulletproof, things can go amiss and if we just turn a blind eye to it, things can go wrong pretty quickly.