How Fair Game Academy uncovered my leadership potential
My name is Tom and I have worked with Fair Game for two years. The impact that Fair Game has on the communities that it visits is well known, however less reported is the impact that it has on its own volunteers.
When I joined Fair Game, I was starting out in my first year of medical school. This was a time of a lot of change for me, with a cohort of 250 new people to meet, new expectations of me as a medical student and a completely new day to day routine. While I have never been a particularly confident person, these changes led me to become more withdrawn, second-guessing every action that I did and struggling to approach unfamiliar faces. Somehow along the way I managed to befriend the inspiring Jordan Korol who introduced me to the work of Fair Game.
One year later, I was given the opportunity to coordinate Fair Game’s Perth sessions. Together with an old friend and a new one, I was eased into a position of leadership. While finding my feet, I could rely on my friends to take control when I wasn’t feeling confident and I learnt a lot by observing their techniques. As each week went by I began to feel myself slowly step up, but still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was the weak link in the team.
It wasn’t until I went on my first rural trip with Fair Game that I truly began to find my self-confidence. On the first evening of the trip, we sat by a waterhole in Marble Bar and reflected on what we wanted to achieve from the trip. I explained my story to the team and how I hoped to finally address my confidence issue that had crippled me for as long as I could remember. With the help of an incredible team, I quickly upgraded from participating in sessions to leading activities, and then running games by myself when situations required it. This was the first time I had ever felt comfortable leading a group of people without being overcome by nerves.
Fair Game’s message is something I am very passionate about – there is nothing I want more than to know I’ve made a difference in improving the profile of cardiovascular disease in Australia. Seeing the unmet needs of underserviced Australians first hand solidified my desire to make a difference in these communities. Looking back, it was the combination of a supportive team, a desire to make a difference and pride to be a part of Fair Game that made my nerves feel so insignificant, allowing me to overcome them.
Since returning from the Pilbara trip, my life has improved ten-fold. While working with the other Perth coordinators is still the highlight of my week, I no longer feel dependent on them to be able to run a session. In the hospital setting, my new-found confidence has helped me build better rapport with patients and consultant, making my day a lot more fulfilling. Doctors have a fundamental role to be a leader, and thanks to Fair Game I finally, after more than twenty years of struggles, feel that I can achieve that.