On the football field he was a dynamic player and leader.
Throughout his life, Ron Barassi has been an inspiration to many. On the football field he was a dynamic player and leader. As a coach he was a passionate motivator and revolutionised the way Australian rules was played by introducing new tactics and game styles. His career in football resulted in a record 10 premierships – six as a player and four as a coach. He is an undisputed legend of the game.
Ron was only five-years-old when his father died in Tobruk during World War II. Understandably this had a strong impact on his life and he has often used his high profile to champion the cause of veterans in this country. In recent times he has been something of a poster boy for good old fashioned manners and decency. This happened after he came to a woman’s aide on New Year’s Eve in 2009 after he saw her being assaulted on a busy street.
Now, Barassi is likely to become an inspiration for a completely new reason. He has announced that he has dementia after consulting his doctor about short-term memory loss. This is obviously a brave announcement and I believe an inspired one. Often in society, especially amongst my generation, dementia is seen as a sign of weakness and something from which only really old people suffer. Obviously this is not the case and I believe that Barassi’s willingness to talk publicly about it will improve the awareness and understanding of dementia in today’s society. Barassi is revered amongst even the most macho football fans so hopefully his experience with dementia will encourage notoriously (doctor-shy) men to talk to their GP about their health. People might even start to understand that it is not a sign of weakness, it’s just the way the cards are sometimes dealt.
In a time when we often question the role model status of our sports stars, it’s refreshing to see a man who is a genuine role model, and not just for his performance on the field.
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