True Blue Paul Langmack turned a quiet night out in a Sydney restaurant into another opportunity to spread the word about the NSWRL’s ‘Changing Rooms’ program – this time with the Royal Australian Navy.
In 2023 the NSWRL’s Mental Fitness and Wellbeing Manager spoke on a range of mental fitness topics with more than 5,000 young people from Junior Rugby League clubs, high schools, PCYCs, sporting teams and organisations, charities, and community groups.
But a chance meeting with a Naval officer after a meal in an inner suburban hotel resulted in Langmack delivering 45-minute presentation to 100 staff of the Maritime Warfare Centre at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park in January.
“It was their induction on what they call their ‘Blue Horizon Day’,” Langmack said.
“So immediately I was able to tell them how symbolic it is because we are the NSW Blues.”
Captain Ben Hissink, the Commander of the Maritime Warfare Centre, had asked Langmack to speak about teamwork, mental fitness, and how to tackle the tough times when a change of direction is needed.
“The Navy and the sport of Rugby League are very similar – except they go into real battles and we don’t,” Langmack said.
“But on a ship there are these different sets of workers – some who work with the torpedos who have great computer skills to make the right evaluations, those who run the engines, those in admin or even the kitchens. They are as important as each other.”
Langmack talked about lessons from his playing career, including when he was on the 1986 Kangaroo Tour and met Football Manager Sir Alex Ferguson who had just started with Manchester United in the English Premier League.
“I was a bit of a brash kid so I asked him ‘Mr Ferguson what are you looking for in a player to be successful?’,” Langmack said.
“He said ‘Talent gets you identified, but hard work makes you a champion’.
“And that’s how you’ve got to live life. Sometimes the super stars on your football team get all the credit but they would not get that without the workers alongside them.”
Langmack also talked about the importance of continuing to evolve.
“Everything has to keep evolving because with footy, what won you a competition last year won’t work this year,” he said.
“It’s the same in most areas of work, even the Navy. And sure, we all have bad days but reach out and talk to someone because tomorrow will be better.”
Commander Mark Flowerdew said Langmack’s presentation had been very well-received.
“A number of areas struck a significant point with members,” he said.
"These was the call to a friend or colleague who you haven’t spoken to and ask, ‘Are you ok?’, and also the positivity question. This simplified life and what we are all aiming at to have a good mindset and seek for a mindful and positive daily life.
“His openness and ability to talk about his own struggles and his ability to make individuals realise that you are not alone with mental fitness.”
Commander Tim Watson added: “Paul Langmack was passionate, insightful and very funny.
“It was clear he cared deeply for mental fitness and the importance of dealing with depression. His presentation had real impact and I’m all the better for attending.”