For years, Anthony Koutoufides didn’t realise his failing health wasn’t just from battling with injury, but also from the shock of being outside the professional Aussie Rules football world.
The former Carlton star has candidly revealed his battle with depression after quitting the game, succumbing to mental exhaustion and apathy towards his new life outside the AFL.
He felt stuck without a goal to achieve, falling into a darkness that had him struggling to get out of bed in the morning.
“I think a lot of footballers out there, without us realising it, are lost after footy,” he told Herald Sun journalist Mark Robinson.
He didn’t realise it at the time, but his mental state was floundering without a new purpose and a training regimen.
“Now, when I think back, maybe it was depression … I’m not the sort of person to say it was depression,” he says.
“I was happy with family, and I’m a happy person, but deep down inside there was something definitely hurting.
“Maybe I was in denial.
“Maybe I was a bit stubborn to admit it.”
His struggle remained silent till now. Koutoufides tried to get his life back on track, appealing to his former club find him a job, pair or unpaid, just to keep him active but that fell on deaf ears.
“I feel indebted to the club … but I found that a bit strange. When you think a player walks in when he’s 14 in their junior development squad, and plays under-15s, under-19s, reserves and seniors, so you spent from 14 to 34 here, yeah, that hurt me,” he says.
He found it hard to communicate his feelings to those closest to him, and although he never sought professional help, he has encouraged other retired players to look at their mental state closely and seek help.
His saving grace was getting back into a fitness regime, working on goals again and keeping active. His community based program, Kouta Fit Club, has given him the drive he was lacking in 2010.
Source: Herald Sun