april 9 2020

FINDING STRENGTH AND SUPPORT WHEN WE NEED IT MOST

A ground-breaking Minerva Network Virtual Workshop has encouraged our leading athletes to find a silver lining amid the global pandemic. 

CRYSTELLE CORDERO reports.

“In times of crisis it’s not that character is formed – it is that character is revealed. What this time is doing is revealing who we can learn from, who we can trust and who we can lean on, and that is what the Minerva Network is here for.”

These inspiring words from Australian business leader Sam Mostyn perfectly summed up the Minerva Network’s neoteric Virtual Workshop on Wednesday 8 April as more than 70 of Australia’s top athletes connected online with some of the nation’s most celebrated experts in business, health and wellbeing, and the media industry.

The Virtual Workshop hosted by Minerva Network Co-Founders Christine McLoughlin and Sam Mostyn focused on the importance of resilience, leadership and growth during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sam recognised that many of Australia’s leading women in sport were dealing with fear, frustration and disappointment as the public health crisis strikes in all areas of our community.

Her comments followed on from a powerful opening narrative from Chairman Christine McLoughlin, who said: “This is a traumatic time for the world and all of our industries, including sport.

“Having said that, being connected with our virtual communities has never been more important. Now more than ever we need to support each other and celebrate our successes.”

The keynote address of the Webinar was delivered by journalist, TV presenter and author Jessica Rowe who shared her personal journey of dealing with post-natal depression after the birth of her first daughter Allegra, and how she came out the other side having found strength in her vulnerability.

“These are extraordinary times, but it is so special for me to see all of your beaming faces and to connect with you, because even though we have to physically isolate, we need to be socially connected to one another. With opportunities like this afternoon we can feel less alone,” said Jessica.

“Now more than ever we need to feel that we can share our darkest thoughts and feelings. For so many of you, these beautiful technicolour dreams you’ve had have been pulled out from underneath you . . .  but only temporarily. What I keep trying to hold on to is that this will pass. We don’t know when, but it will.”

Counsellor and psychotherapist Lisa Champion shared her tools and tips for navigating these anxious times and spoke about the importance of self-compassion.

“We need to be kind to ourselves the way we’d be kind to a friend who is going through a really hard time. When we are more compassionate towards ourselves we start to feel more compassionate towards others,” she said.

Lisa then invited the athletes and mentors to participate in a guided mindfulness exercise, which she encouraged everyone to practice daily at home.

“The change in your routine, training, diet and structure, can be super unsettling, and I know you’re probably all travelling with that in different ways. But any worries you have about your career, health, money, expectations, fitness, can be held in your body. You might not even notice them. So the way we can get in touch with how these challenges are sitting within us is to turn inward and check in with our bodies. Your body knows the score.”

Minerva Network Co-Founder, Romilly Madew, AO, hosted an athletes’ panel Q & A featuring Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch, GWS Giants netballer Sam Poolman and ultra-runner Jacqui Bell all sharing insights on how they are surviving and thriving from home.

The final words of the night came from Sam Mostyn: “We are living through a time that is history in the making. This is a global moment. We are all going through this together and we’re here to support you and help you find the silver linings,” she told the athletes.

Follow the Minerva Network story on Twitter @minerva_network and Instagram @minervanetwork.

Video highlights of the Minerva Network Virtual Workshop here, 

courtesy of Emma Rothfield.