Former rugby league head coach, Carlo Napolitano, joins forces with Australia Alopecia Areata Charity.
Carlo Napolitano, former Head Coach of the Italian Rugby League has joined forces with Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) to raise awareness of auto-immune condition, Alopecia Areata and help support people with the condition.
Carlo, 40 from the Sutherland Shire, NSW was diagnosed with Alopecia when he was four years old.
Alopecia Areata is a medical condition that results in dramatic hair loss in the scalp and elsewhere in the body. The hair loss can range from several bald patches, to total baldness. It affects women, men and children.
“I was really young when I got Alopecia. It all happened very quickly. Within weeks I was totally bald. Even at such a young age, I was very aware of people staring at me. I would often hear people asking my parents how long I’d had cancer for. I became self-conscious and covered my head with a hat. It became my security blanket. Unfortunately, I also got bullied regularly when I was younger, older kids would take my hat off and throw it away. Others would frequently chant baldy, you are not going to live long.” Says Carlo who has the most severe form of Alopecia – Alopecia Areata Universalis which results in total loss of all body hair. I dealt with it by focusing on sports and went through the ranks to play professional Rugby League. I was also very lucky to have a great support network. The support and understanding of my friends and family gave me the confidence and encouragement to achieve my ambitions and deal with the ups and downs of the condition. Finally, at the age of 21, I drummed up the courage to take off my hat and decide to face Alopecia head on. I never wore it again, it was the most liberating day of my life.”
Carlo counts, model, TV presenter and former UK Rugby League player Kris Smith as one his best friends.
“I’ve known Kris since we were kids. He has been a massive influence in the way in which I dealt with my Alopecia. Dealing with puberty, relationships and getting attention from girls was difficult. Kris never went off and left me alone he always stuck by my side.”
Carlo says he is very excited to become a committee member of Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation.
“Alopecia Areata is life changing. It can have a huge psychological and emotional impact on individuals living with the condition. It’s not uncommon for people with any form of Alopecia Areata to experience depression, anxiety and social phobias. I am involved with the Foundation to share my story. I want individuals with Alopecia to know they are not alone and understand the importance of having a focus and a strong network of support – that is what got me through the hard times. I am also passionate about raising awareness of the condition with the general public. I want people to understand that although people with Alopecia look different, we are completely healthy.”
Chel Campbell, President of Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation says that the Foundation is delighted with the appointment.
“We are thrilled to have such a positive role model as Carlo within the committee, we look forward to working with him to raise awareness of the condition, to help support and empower individuals with Alopecia Areata.”
AAAF is a not-for-profit that provides people living with Alopecia Areata and their families with essential support. AAAF also funds research into the disease in order to find a cure or acceptable treatment and informs the public about the condition.
Alopecia Areata affects almost 500,000 Australians. Alopecia can occur at any age, however, in most cases, it first presents itself during childhood. Currently, there is no cure.
To find out more visit www.aaaf.org.au