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Happy Purple Family – Phil’s Story

13 Jul 2022

When there’s a good culture, good news stories seem to just exude from within the club.

We have another feel good story, yet with a darker twist, from the incredible Sloths Dragon boat club on the transformation this tight knit community had on another individual in the club.

Today, we’re sharing Phil’s story. 

Phil began his journey at the Sloths Dragon boat club in 2018, being brought along by a close work friend. He quickly started joining regattas, became part of the ‘purple family’ and cherished every moment of club life. 

Behind the scenes however, Phil was struggling with personal challenges that eventually saw him facing severe alcohol-induced health issues. While continuing to fight his health battles, Phil tried to keep up with the Sloths and his fitness as much as he could, even trying out to represent NSW State Team. While unsuccessful, Phil was relishing in the memories he was making at the club and thriving in the support his club was rallying for him. Eventually though, his battle with alcohol tore him away from his life in Australia and his club, which had become part of his everyday life at this stage.

His health continued to stumble, landing Phil in rehab in Germany, isolated from his dear club and trying to gather the strength to face his demons head on, by himself. 

However, not even an ocean could interfere with the strong connection the ‘purple family’ has for one another though, their bond unbreakable and funded on a strong club-culture. Fellow members of the Sloths would constantly reach out to Phil, supporting him out of his alcoholism and dark period. 

Phil said the club gave him ‘A clear perspective of what to get back to, and where to get back to”, and their unwavering support gave him additional strength and motivation to continue on his journey, and help him to feel connected to the world whilst being in rehab for nearly 6 months.

After completing rehab in late 2019, returning to Australia shortly thereafter, in February 2020, Phil was finally reunited with the Sloths as strong competitive paddler.

As his journey continued he was part of the Sloths Men’s Crew that won Gold in 200m and 500m Opens Final at 2022 Australian Dragon Boating National Championships. He was recently selected to represent Australia in Dragon Boat racing, along with his fellow Sloths teammates Andy Almenara, Kristi Barrow and Chelsi Trajcevski.

Without the guidance, support, and connectivity his club offered him from across the globe, his journey may have been completely different. 

The wonder of a positive culture is truly a remarkable thing. Not only can it unite a team to perform successfully on the field, water, or court, but can inspire people to overcome personal hurdles, to motivate them to see through a dark period.  

The Sloth’s culture is an unbreakable club attribute, which they have undoubtedly worked very hard at. Phil’s story is one that marvels in his club’s achievement, which is something that should be celebrated. Congratulations to the Sloths for this outstanding effort, and may they continue to proceed with greatness.