Sandringham Zebras' Chaplain Steve Enticott is providing encouragement and spiritual guidance to players, coaches and volunteers as they navigate through the treacherous waters of another COVID-19 affected year.
With the 2021 season his third at the club, Enticott is part of the Zebras fabric and is a constant presence on match day. Whether he’s mingling with fans in the grandstands or chatting to players and officials in the changerooms, Enticott spreads positivity wherever he goes.
He’s heartened by the society-wide shift in favour of an upfront approach towards mental health, and quoted Zebras senior coach Jake Batchelor in saying “it’s becoming normal, isn’t it”, that is to reach out and offload something on your mind rather than to unhealthily bottle it all up.
“People now know that if they’ve got an issue, they know it’s not normal to ignore it,” Enticott said.
“I reckon this current phase of mental health awareness that I’ve been observing as a chaplain is a positive, because people know the benefits of reaching out.”
“We’re seeing record numbers of people ringing lifeline, this is a really good sign that people aren’t ignoring their mental health.”
Enticott is guided by his faith to keep things in perspective throughout COVID-19 and prefers to look forward rather than backwards.
“One of the key things is to not look at what we don’t have, or what’s been taken away. We have so much in Australia and we all have each other,” he said.
He also highlighted the importance of showing empathy and the importance of all of us leading others through difficult times.
A favourite verse of the bible is from John Chapter 11, Verse 35, which is two words: “Jesus Wept,” he said.
“Jesus had feelings, and it is good for us to have feelings for others.”
“If you start leading in elevating others and start to feel what they’re feeling in the same way Jesus felt feelings, then you’re going to cope a lot better as well.”
When asked for his top three tips for dealing with the challenges of COVID-19, Enticott referred to a popular Michael Leunig cartoon of a person going up and down a mountain.
“The first thing to recognise is that ups and downs are absolutely normal,” he said.
“There’ll be periods in life when you’re on top, you’re running downhill and it’s all good, and there’ll also be times when you’re at the bottom, and you’re looking up and thinking it’s a real battle. And that’s normal. Normal mental health is up and down.”
Another crucial tip he shared is the value of sharing and confiding in others, especially when you’re feeling down.
“The number two point is to share. Never hold it in. Even people that are internalisers should at some point validate their thinking,” he said.
“You should always, at some point, sit with a trusted person and share.”
Finding someone to confide in isn’t always easy.
“According to Lifeline, one in four people have no one that they can share that burden with. I think the next big phase of mental health is targeting that one in four that don’t have anyone to talk to,” Enticott said.
“I think it’s really, really important that we normalise mental health, we know that ups and downs are normal and we share with others at some point so we’re not carrying it alone, but then we seek out others who haven’t got that ability to share.”
Away from his chaplaincy role at Sandringham, Enticott is a busy man. He has a keen interest in environmental causes and hosts a money segment on Ticker TV, an independent news channel broadcast live.
The Ticker TV opportunity arrived fortuitously, with Enticott saying he “fell into the role.”
“Ticker TV was a start-up network two years ago and I was invited on as a guest. The host was the owner of the show and he said to me ‘Steve, you should be a host’, so he invited me back and I’ve been there for two years,” he said.
“My job in this current role is to give people better money perspectives. I treat it as a real opportunity to help people get a better handle on money, especially at a time like this where money for some is a real challenge.”
As for the highlight of his time with the Zebras in 2021, Enticott spoke fondly about the Round 5 match against Aspley in Queensland, where he travelled with the team for their first interstate football trip in the newly expanded VFL competition.
“It was a privilege to be invited along as the chaplain to go up to Brisbane and watch us play Aspley,” he said.
“To have seven lead changes in the final quarter and to come back victorious was probably the highlight of my Sandringham year.”
If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue's coronavirus mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348.
Written by Jack Bennett - Sandringham Football Club Media