England football legend Tony Adams was a special guest at Wigan Warriors yesterday.
The former Arsenal captain spoke to the players about his battles with his demons and the work done by the charity he set up, Sporting Chance Clinic, to provide a specialist addiction and recovery facility for athletes.
Adams said: “It’s always a pleasure and honour for me to work for the education department for my charity, the Sporting Chance Clinic, and talk about my own experiences.
“Seventy per cent of the work we do now is around mental health and emotional support and our education department plays a big part in that.
“I’ve been speaking about my own journey and experiences with addiction and how I’ve come out the other side.
“We were talking about thoughts and feelings, those real basic human emotions around addiction, and how I experienced that during my time as professional footballer.
“I think they received it well, and the most important thing is we’ve sowed a few seeds. I started this around 20-years ago and I’m now seeing people who have come into the clinic who have said ‘you came into my club 18-years ago’ and they wanted to seek help.
“It’s about one sportsman coming into to speak to other sportsmen and sharing their experiences. Much like Alcoholics Anonymous is about one alcoholic talking about their experiences with addiction with other alcoholics - it’s about talking about my experience, not my opinions, and maybe the people I’m speaking to may identify in some way.”
Warriors welfare and education manager Steve McCormack added: “To get someone of Tony’s stature to speak to the group is fantastic for the players and for the work we do with them as part of the wider Welfare and Education programme we have at Wigan.
“Tony carries a real gravitas in terms of his achievements as a sportsman, but also for his inspiring work with the Sporting Chance Clinic so we were delighted that he agreed to come down and speak to the squad about his own experiences with addiction, and how the Sporting Chance Clinic is a leader in providing education and treatment for professional sportsmen and women.
“We pride ourselves on making our Welfare programme the best in rugby league and one of the best in sport – it’s extremely important that we provide our players with as much support and education off the pitch as we do in preparing them to be elite level athletes on the field.”