IF there’s one man who knows how to confront his “demons”, it’s Parramatta Eels legend Nathan Hindmarsh.
The former NSW and Australian great, who played 330 first grade games in the National Rugby League (NRL), made headlines in 2011 after admitting he’d put $200,000 through poker machines as a result of the addiction he had in his early 20s.
“I had a conversation the other day and I said you can push your body to limits you didn’t know you could go, but you can’t stop your finger from pushing a little button on a machine,” he explained at the time.
Now, Hindmarsh is in town to share his story with students from Muswellbrook High School, St Joseph’s High School Aberdeen, Scone High School, Merriwa High School and Scone Grammar School, thanks to the Upper Hunter Liquor Accord (UHLA).
“Hopefully, I can get my message across the line,” he said.
“And, that is, if you have an issue, it’s about putting your hand up and asking for assistance before it’s too late.
“In my case, in the early days, having a lot of spare time didn’t help.
“But, there is a cultural shift [now] in regards to gambling, alcohol and other addictions.
“I believe the current crop of players is looking at life after footy.
“The NRL and the individual clubs are more switched on.
“There are educational/welfare programs for youngsters coming through the system, which weren’t there before.”
The UHLA represents licensed venues including clubs, pubs, bottle shops, wineries, restaurants and race clubs from Muswellbrook, Aberdeen, Scone, Denman, Merriwa and Murrurundi.
“It’s terrific to have Nathan talking to the kids again,” UHLA secretary, and Muswellbrook RSL Club CEO, Daryl Egan said.
“A lot of them would have seen him on The Matty Johns Show with his offsider Bryan Fletcher.
“He’s the Clubs NSW ClubSAFE Ambassador, too.
“Nathan was here two years ago, discussing problem gambling – and was a very popular speaker.
“We’ve also got guests from Hunter Valley Local Area Command, St Heliers Correctional Centre, NSW Ambulance and drug and alcohol counsellors.”
* Contact the Gambling Help Hotline on 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au