Back-to-back heart attacks, nearly losing his family home to a bushfire and a hail-damaged car was just all part and parcel of a horror two weeks in early 2020 for Brendan Greenwood.
Having just seen off the fire threat to his home and lost his car to the hailstorm in Barton two days earlier, Greenwood was out for his lunchtime exercise when he felt an unusual tightness in his neck.
Assuming it was just a by-product of the smoky haze still blanketing the city, he pushed through it, even finishing his day with a two-hour football training in 40-degree heat.
A week later while out on another lunchtime walk, he had a similar experience with the addition of cold flushes, this time forcing him to cut his exercise short.
It wasn't until a colleague at work offered to drive Greenwood to the hospital that the ACT Masters Australian rules coach found out he'd simply shrugged off back-to-back heart attacks.
Heart health and awareness is an important subject to Greenwood and his football team, having tragically lost their club's masters president 10 years earlier when he suffered a heart attack on the field during a game.
Heart awareness, mental health and suicide prevention are the main three drivers behind a new ACT-based masters competition being launched this week.
AFL Canberra and AFL Masters ACT are launching an inaugural Canberra masters competition which will see more than 100 men over the age of 35 running onto Phillip Oval this Friday night.
The Heart, Soul and Mind Cup will see four Canberra-based sides - the ACT Masters, ANU Griffins, Australian Command and Staff Course, and Weston Creek Wildcats - go head-to-head over four rounds with matches played monthly.
The competition has a strong focus on men's health, heart, and mental health awareness, providing a strong support community for all its members.
"What masters footy offers is for guys to find another team to belong to, albeit at a slower game, but the comradery is still there, we still look out for each other, and we go away on football trips, and we play regionally and nationally," Greenwood said.
"The initiative here is to get guys involved, footy for fun, but also to get a posse together and send them over to Perth in September and challenge for the national championship over there".
Craig Allen of the Weston Creek Wildcats was full of praise for the competition's benefits and shared what it meant to him.
"It means a lot, having had my own battles with mental health and addiction and hitting rock bottom and then coming out of addiction and looking after my mental health, it's just good to connect with like-minded people, the guys," Allen said.
"If you're having a bad day, you can reach out to each other, and just going to training helps. It gives you something to look forward to and yeah, it's just a great community".
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