Resilience and forgiveness – that’s what Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues winger Brian To’o and Harvey Norman Sky Blues lock Simaima Taufa have learned.
The two stars joined NSW Origin coaches Brad Fittler and Kylie Hilder in addressing 500 high school students at Western Sydney University (WSU) as part of the Blues Youth Leadership Program.
It’s the third conference to be held following similar programs in Wollongong and Armidale with a fourth to be held in Canberra in May.
To’o and Taufa shared their experiences of four ways teenagers can take better control of their lives – Breathing for calmness and focus, Energy from hydration and good food, Sleep to let their brains grow and thrive, and Talking for better communication and mental health support.
They make up the ‘B.E.S.T.’ elements for an improved lifestyle.
Other guest speakers shared experiences of having lost loved ones in a road accident, or in the case of two-time Paralympian John Maclean, his ability to play football after a spinal cord injury.
Blues Youth Leadership Program in Armidale
Those messages of being patient and keeping up the determination to get better resonated with To’o as he recovers from a serious left knee injury.
“Those little things about resilience and trying to be a good leader – I wasn’t expecting to be hearing that coming here today,” To’o said.
“I got a lot out of that even though I don’t see myself as a leader just yet but I’m a patient person and I will take the time and effort to be the best I can.”
Taufa found the personal anecdotes of letting go of comments or situations that have hurt, the most satisfying part of the sessions.
“The power of forgiveness and how it has such a great impact within yourself and how it helps you to move forward,” she said.
“Whether you’re a footballer or not, bad things can happen in life. But knowing that you can come out the other side with something positive for yourself touched me.”
Fittler told the Years 10, 11 and 12 students from various high schools that they were soon going to have to make big decisions about their future lives.
“Most of those decisions should be controlled by you, and the best way to do that is to be in control of yourself,” Fittler said.
Hilder said the stresses of life could build to a frenetic pace in someone’s head.
“Take the time to talk it through with the people you love and care about,” she said.
“And make sure you support them as well when they want to talk,” she said.