Related story: Hindmarsh to bring a positive message
Former NRL player, Nathan Hindmarsh had an open and honest conversation with Gloucester High School students this morning (May 17).
Nathan told the year 10, 12 and 12 students about his journey from the small country town of Robertson, NSW to the Parramatta Eels.
He explained how he was only 18 years old when he first put coins in a ‘pokie’ machine, which saw him win $40.
That sparked an addiction that lasted from 1998, until he “got a handle on it” in 2007.
“Back then, we only trained for two hours a day,” Nathan explained.
During his down time, he didn’t look to fill it with anything else, like furthering his education.
“I wish I had,” he said.
So he took up gambling.
In the beginning he lost his whole months wage in 15 minutes and had to call his parents for money.
“I felt sick and never wanted to do it again.”
The next pay cheque, he thought he could win it back, but instead lost it all in a half hour.
He spoke about how he was a bit shy and when he would go to the clubs in Sydney with his teammates, he would spend time having a few schooners at the pokies to work put the courage to join the crowd.
“It’s something I’m not proud of,” he told the students.
Even now, he still feels the excitement when he walks by a club, with the sound of the pokie feature and the smells of a club, are his triggers.
He said he can now bet in a controlled manner; put in $20 and walk away.
And that ability to leave the machine, he said, “is as good as a win.”
He knows the consequences, if he starts again, and the idea of losing his family keeps him in check.
So now, he works with ClubsNSW spreading the message about his past in an effort to let people know that it’s okay to put your hand up and say you need help.
“It was the best thing I ever did,” he said.
Representatives from Gambling Help joined Nathan on the visit. They encourage people to contact them, if they need help on 1800 858 858 or via the website http://www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/