Former AFL stars Matt Priddis and Hayden Ballantyne square off as part of Wheatbelt mental health footy match

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Steve ButlerNarrogin Observer
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Former AFL stars Matt Priddis and Hayden Ballantyne, who will play against each other in this Saturday’s match between Williams and Brookton-Pingelly to promote mental health issues in the sport.
Camera IconFormer AFL stars Matt Priddis and Hayden Ballantyne, who will play against each other in this Saturday’s match between Williams and Brookton-Pingelly to promote mental health issues in the sport. Credit: Jackson Flindell

A western derby rivalry will be reignited on Saturday when Matt Priddis and Hayden Ballantyne square off in the Wheatbelt to raise awareness around mental health.

Priddis, West Coast’s 2014 Brownlow medallist, has been playing for Williams this year in the Upper Great Southern Football League.

And while former Fremantle star Ballantyne has been playing for Pinjarra, he will make a special appearance for Brookton-Pingelly against Priddis’ team on Saturday afternoon for the competition’s annual Talk to a Mate round.

“To play in this game is what got me back into footy initially,” Priddis said.

“Mental health ... we see all the blue trees as we’re driving out to the bush, and the more awareness there is, the more confidence it is going to give blokes to speak to a mate when they’re a bit down in the dumps.

“We have all got mates going through tough times, so it’s very important.”

Matt Priddis will play for Williams and Hayden Ballantyne will line-up for Brookton-Pingelly.
Camera IconMatt Priddis will play for Williams and Hayden Ballantyne will line-up for Brookton-Pingelly. Credit: Jackson Flindell

Ballantyne said supporting the cause was a “no-brainer”.

“I work with a lot of farmers in the bush and mental health is a big issue in the rural industry,” he said.

“There is that stigma in the bush where tough blokes don’t go and talk, but that is slowly starting to change.”

Ballantyne jokingly warned Priddis he still had his renowned white-line fever, taunting him he was not quick enough to catch him.

Williams and Brookton-Pingelly will go head-to-head in the special clash at 2.30pm in Williams.

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