Last week, the Dyldam Parramatta Eels NRL players, their partners, the Eels NYC squad and staff were treated to a visit from Hugh van Cuylenburg – Founding Director of The Resilience Project.

The Resilience Project aims at helping young Australians be mentally healthy by delivering an emotionally engaging program to not only sports clubs, but schools and businesses along with providing an evidence based practical strategy to build resilience.

The entire Eels organisation embraced the initiative.

“Because of the crisis we have in Australia now with mental illness, I have just tried to put together a program which is highly engaging for young people,” van Cuylenburg said.

“I feel like there is a lot of stuff out there to do with mental health but if it’s not emotionally engaging, you are not going to cut through and inspire these young people to work on their mental health.” He added.

Speaking with the entire organisation at the Eels, van Cuylenburg said he had received plenty of positive reactions from those involved.

“The response from the Eels players has been amazing. I have had nine messages from different players, from across the seniors through to the NYC boys, just saying how much they needed to hear the stuff I spoke about and how much of a difference it will make for them,” van Cuylenburg said.

“One of the boys in particular has been messaging me everyday to let me know how he is going and how he is practicing his gratitude and mindfulness everyday.”

Local junior Tim Mannah said the NRL squad welcomed the opportunity to hear from van Cuylenburg, taking away some key points.

“I think it is a good reminder to the boys to not take what we have for granted and it’s a message that all footy players can learn a lot from and it’s definitely something we will take a lot out of,” Mannah said.

“The main points were to really appreciate what we have and take the time to appreciate it rather than just knowing we are grateful. It is all about taking time to be intentional about our gratefulness, mindfulness and our empathy” he added.

“There are a few key things that we took out of it that if we work on, we can become better people and happier people.”

And whilst there has been immediate positive responses from the Eels, van Cuylenburg hopes that his presentation and message will continue to assist the players, partners and staff for the rest of their lives, well beyond their careers.

“I hope that they walk away with an understanding that they have to a certain extent, a control of their mental health and also that they can control the strength of their emotions,” van Cuylenburg said.

“On top of that, I game them some practical strategies for them to become more mindful so they worry less about their performance and worry just about what is happening in the moment” he added.

“Hopefully I gave them some stories to put things into perspective about how lucky they are to have the opportunities that they do have.“

To find out more about The Resilience Project, click here.