Meet The team | Brian O’Neil | Part 1
Brian had a successful career in professional football before becoming MA-Change’s Head of Sporting Professionals.
Meet our Head of Sporting Professionals, Brian O’Neil.
Today, Brian discusses his role within MA-Change, telling us what the Company is doing within the Sporting industry and outlines how being an ex-professional footballer has helped shape and drive his aspiration to help others and to do good in sports.
What is your role at MA-Change?
I am the key contact between the platform and clubs. I used to be a professional footballer and as a result, have contacts and friends who I know would benefit from our services. What I do mostly is spread our message – that we’re here to help players, staff and fans in anyway. We want members to know they are supported and don’t need to suffer alone.
As an ex-professional footballer, how has this inspired your mission to do good in sport?
I’ve been able to see the way the environment has changed for athletes now compared to my own experiences. These days, there is so much scrutiny and everything is on display for the world to see – the pressure is huge.
The internet, and the access it gives, has changed the way players are regarded and treated by their fans – and it’s often brutal. Even without the media we have today, I found it really difficult. The stigma of mental health, back when I was playing, was high and there wasn’t someone I could necessarily talk to about my issues, let alone a company I could go to for help. Sometimes all I needed was a chat, but it just wasn’t how it worked. So what we’re doing at MA-Change is really important.
Did you face any personal crises during your playing career?
Yes, absolutely. You’d struggle to find any top-level athlete that hasn’t struggled in some way. For me, it was the injuries that affected me the most. I had seven surgeries in two years – not only does that take a physical toll on you, but it affects the way people perceive you.
What qualities do you bring from your career as an ex-professional to your role?
My career and journey to where I am now has taught me a lot of lessons and given me great life experience. Some parts have been good, but many have been bad, so I know what it’s like to feel the weight of crisis and how it can affect the way you act and think.
Something that I think is really important to bring to this role is a sense of empathy. Many young men and women often think there is no one out there who understands them, but there is. My journey from that naïve young lad into the man I am today has involved exposure to a wealth of experiences, people, places, cultures, religions, sexualities, ethnicities. I think, as crisis managers, it’s vital we consider these things and draw on those experiences to help others find their way.
Come back soon for part 2 of Brian’s introduction!
You can follow Brian on Twitter @brianoneil1972.
For more information about MA-Change and its services, please call 03302291238 or visit our website www.ma-change.com