Northern United player Tennyson Strong is assessed by Southern Cross University fourth-year osteopathy masters student Francois Naef at the Meridian Health Centre in Goonellabah.
Northern United player Tennyson Strong is assessed by Southern Cross University fourth-year osteopathy masters student Francois Naef at the Meridian Health Centre in Goonellabah. Jacklyn Wagner

Health a priority for footy club

PROVIDING comprehensive, free health checks for 40 to 50 young men who might not otherwise go to the doctor is an important contribution to health in our community.

But it's much more than that.

"We will have saved at least six lives here today, for sure," said the managing director of Meridian Health, John Brice, as he watched the stream of young Northern United Rugby League Football Club members and their relatives make their way from the Goonellabah Meridian clinic, where they had medical tests, to a massive Southern Cross University mobile health laboratory parked outside.

The players, mostly young indigenous men, were having their "vitals" - blood pressure, blood sugar levels, height, weight and temperature - measured by fourth-year students from Southern Cross University, and then having medical checks with Meridian Clinic staff.

"The Northern United RLFC is concerned about the health of its players. They lost a young player to a heart attack on the field a while back and came to me to talk about how they could avoid such a thing happening again," Mr Brice told The Northern Star.

"The Meridian Clinic, which is in the process of morphing into the Lismore GP Superclinic, offered to become a platinum sponsor of the club - conditional on every player having regular health checks.

"That means we take a full medical history from birth, and check for the things that can affect the indigenous community, who historically were proud hunter-gatherers and whose systems are not attuned to exposure to sugar and other western dietary habits."

Tennyson Strong, 22, has joined the Northern United RLFC. He recently moved to Lismore with his wife Ashley, a two-year-old and another baby on the way. He was "stoked" to be studying at SCU and went along for the health check.

"I wouldn't normally bother to go and get a health check," he said.

"But we're all following procedure and doing what the coaches tell us to do. It's really valuable because they are teaching us about diet and how to become more efficient and healthy."



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