You’ve probably heard of the role trainers, physios, development managers and even sport psychologists play within AFL clubs, but what about the role of a club chaplain?
It’s one of the least publicised positions at a football club, but the chaplain plays an important role in providing welfare and support for the entire playing squad and club staff.
Mark Purser is the Adelaide Football Club’s chaplain (far left). Mark was one of the many new Crows staff members, who joined the Club at the start of Season 2012.
“I began in January this year; I was introduced to the players a couple of days before they went away for their Christmas break and I’ve started with the Club in a volunteer capacity since that time,” he said.
Purser has plenty of experience in the role, having worked with hundreds of junior footballers, including current Crows Rory Sloane and Chris Knights in the past.
“I’ve been a chaplain previously for about five years back in Melbourne for a club called the Eastern Ranges Football Club at the TAC Cup level. That’s where I cut my teeth in regards to chaplaincy after I retired from my own sport,” he said.
“We had a couple of current AFL players come through that club during that time including Rory Sloane and Chris Knights and that has provided a bit of a stepping stone and link to the Crows which was helpful too.”
As the Crows Club chaplain, Mark’s role is built around the premise of providing support for the people involved in the football club.
“I’m there as a welfare support to basically compliment what’s already in place at the Club under the current leadership and welfare system which Paddy Steinfort (Leadership Development Manager) heads up,” he said.
“I’m available for the players to chat with in relation to any life issues that they might like to chat about. You’re there to support them and help get the consistency in their life which the club would have them strive for.
“You need to be there and available as a listening ear for player’s that are struggling with issues happening off the field like family, relationships, long term injury battles, grief and so on.
“Chaplaincy is something that has been endorsed very much through the AFLPA. It’s a role that the AFL is happy to have involved in the clubs.”
The chaplain is loving his work at the Adelaide Football Club, and feels that he can have a greater impact as he continues to build and further his relationships with the players and staff.
While he has taken to his new role with great enthusiasm, Victorian-born Mark guiltily admits he didn’t barrack for Adelaide prior to taking up his role.
“I’ve always been a passionate Bombers supporter…but I’ve got to say that my allegiance has shifted,” he said.
“As soon as you get involved in the lives of the players and you’re there on game day you start to really want the players to succeed and the Club to win.”
(Article syndicated from The official Website of the Adelaide Football Club)