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Injured Fremantle defender Alex Pearce is no stranger to long stints on the sideline.
After suffering a broken leg in round 10 2016 and continuing to miss the entire 2017 season, Pearce learnt the hard way the importance of managing mental health during the rehab process.
As he prepares for another extended break from football after fracturing his ankle in round 11 this year, Pearce said he feels equipped to manage the ups and downs of the recovery process.
“It’s something I’m a lot more conscious of, my mental health and what affects it and having a season ending injury (in 2017) is a major factor in that, so I do feel like I’ve picked up a few skills here and there,” Pearce said.
“I now know during rehab what little things will pop up and will affect the way I’m going, it’s definitely still not easy to get through this time but having that experience and being a bit more conscious of the way I’m feeling day-to-day, week-to-week has definitely been beneficial for this time.”
Pearce took time to go home and spend time with friends and family in Tasmania after his recent surgery.
Now back in Perth, he feels motivated to get involved in the club again, using his leadership skills to help mentor the Fremantle-listed players at Peel Thunder.
“After I’d taken that time (at home), I was in a good space to feel like I wanted to come back and contribute and be around football a bit more, so (coaching) gave me the opportunity to get back involved without playing,” Pearce said.
“It helps mentally but it also helps with my general football as well… I’m always trying to learn things that will help my game so if I can pick up anything along the way every little bit helps.”
Having experienced the mental and physical challenges of rehab before, Pearce said he is able to mentor some of the younger players who are on the long-term injury list alongside him.
“There’s definitely a few young guys who are in rehab at the moment, (such as) Stefan Giro, who’s been in there a while with me and there’s other guys who have been in there a while as well, so I guess it’s a benefit for the other guys to have time with the guys who’ve been in rehab before,” Pearce said.
“(It’s) not only about how hard you have to train to get back but also the other side of it, to look after yourself mentally… you work really hard to get back but if you’re just constantly doing that you can really burn yourself out.”