Forget winning Grand Finals and State of Origin matches: NRL icon Greg Inglis is doing his most important job right now helping Australians who suffer mental health battles in his role with the Goanna Academy, which he formed in 2020.
The Storm, Souths, Queensland and Kangaroos legend has traveled across the country as part of his work with the body, which is Australia’s premier provider of Indigenous-owned mental health education.
Some of the stories he hears from Australians who are struggling to do it themselves need mental health assistance, but that is offset by heartwarming updates from people who have changed. their lives after he has spoken and listened to them.
Inglis is helping Australians change their lives in his work with groundbreaking Goanna Academy (pictured)
The NRL icon spreads the message that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ – something he failed to acknowledge as he battled bipolar II disorder during his incredible career on the ground
Inglis battled his own demons throughout his playing career, eventually being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2019 at a life-changing time.
But despite knowing better than anyone how the Academy can help those in difficulty, the 36-year-old has a surprising answer when asked what sort of difference it would have made for him as a youngster rising soccer star. .
“Look, I don’t think I would have turned to it, to be honest,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
“And here’s what I talked about: It was time to push that male person away and stop walking around thinking I was bulletproof.”
“That’s what we’re pushing for – the message that it’s okay to not be okay…I was too stubborn to do it until it was too late.”
Inglis believes the NRL is doing a ‘great job’ of looking after the mental health of today’s stars, some of whom are very involved in helping him spread the academy’s message .
“It was time to push that male person away and stop walking around thinking I was bulletproof,” the former Storm, Souths and Maroons star said of what he had to do. to change his own life.
Inglis (pictured accepting his winner’s ring after Souths won the 2014 Grand Final) says it’s hard to get footy players to open up, but he ‘would love to they reach out
The Goanna Academy gala in Sydney on June 9 (pictured) raised a small fortune so the body could continue its good work
“It was great to have Nicho Hynes as a defender for us, and to have Latrell [Mitchell] and Cody [Walker] on board as ambassadors also helps to make that voice heard,” he said.
Hynes in particular stands out for Inglis as a great role model as he’s a tough competitor on the court, but he’s not afraid to open up about personal issues outside of the game.
The same doesn’t apply to many of the other footy stars the Southern bigs are catching up to.
“I would like them to contact me because at the end of the day it’s confidential – I see they really want to ask, but it’s like they’re asking how to do it, how I did it , how I am I deal with things,” he said.
Ironically, one star Inglis has contacted recently is Hynes, as he tries to make sure the Sharks kingpin is okay after his clash from the NSW State of Origin team for Game 2 of the series.
‘I was disappointed because he was in this [NSW] system for two years, played the first game out of position for just five minutes – you can’t judge a person on that,” Inglis said.
“You have to look at what he’s done over the last two years, and he’s an incredible human being.
Nicho Hynes – who acts as an advocate for Goanna Academy – has made a huge impression on Inglis, who calls him ‘an incredible human being’
Latrell Mitchell (left) – following in Inglis’ footsteps as a Souths fullback and arguably their best player – is also helping out the academy with team-mate Cody Walker.
“I was scratching my head, like a lot of Blues fans, but I’m more worried about how he reacted.
“I tried to reach out, but he’s hard to reach, like most footballers. I’m sure Nicho knows that when he’s ready to talk, he can talk to me.
The legendary full-back admits he got the wrong way out of the game because he thought he could become a rugby league cold turkey.
“You can’t just walk away from the game, you just can’t,” he said.
“That’s what I struggled with, that’s what I did, I thought I could completely walk away once I retired and be happy with it.
“But you have to keep that door open, which I’m doing now, going through Queensland Pathways, going to a few games down South… but I love my weekends off, haven’t had that for 20 years! ”
Inglis says the country’s cost-of-living crisis has increased demand for Goanna Academy’s services, and he’s on a mission to “build it up all over Australia, have offices in every major towns and country towns so that we can be an outpost to reach people’ – but then he would like to rest a bit.
‘It’s my goal. Once I see everything built and I’m happy with it, I’d like to go home, be in my country, be on my land and be around my family,” he explained.
“I left home when I was 15, so I would love to go home and watch my kids grow up.”