To put it bluntly, Men don’t like talking about Mental health issues. It's no use hiding it guys, when we need help, we don't ask for it. We bottle things up for whatever reasons and then boom, it spirals and generally gets out of control. In some tragic cases it ends with a loss of life...yes suicide. There we go we've said it. It's a taboo subject but it's a fact and we need to do something about it.
About 18 months ago we were asked to try to help a young man suffering from mental health issues. As he was interested in football we met and had a chat with him about what we did and what he would like to do. He was interested in playing but only when he was able to play and on that basis he could nowhen he was able as he didn’t feel able to commit to a team. At that time, we could only offer walking football sessions for the over 50s as a drop in session, which wasn't really that attractive to him and as there appeared to be no other drop in sessions for younger men, it opened up a number of questions about Men's mental health in Warrington and whether football drop in sessions could be used to help.
After several more conversations, we were introduced to a great guy who had lived experience of Mental health issues and loved football and was also looking at something similar to what we wanted to do. After some brainstorming and talking to local service providers of Men’s mental health in Warrington we decided to set up a drop-in session to try and help tackle this problem and improve Men’s mental health in Warrington. On the back of that, we are introducing a new and different type of football session with the idea to get men to combine playing football and talk about their issues with other likeminded men.
Having been involved with football over many years through watching, playing and coaching, we know that it is a powerful tool and can be used in a positive and stimulating way. By being outside of the home environment with like-minded people in a safe place where others are experiencing the same thing, football in its many formats connects people together as a group, as a social environment and also to themselves. It also helps improve both physical and Mental health wellbeing.
The #OneGameAtaTime sessions are intended to be drop-in sessions . They are aimed at Men of all ages and we play different variations of football, 4 aside, short round robin games with no goalkeepers, 5 and 6 aside sometimes with roll on roll off subs or round round robin games. It's all dependent on what the guys want on the night. No pressure, no judgment.
We welcome anybody to play regardless of experience because they’re there for fun. The principle behind this format is to have games that are balanced with periods of physical activity working within a team and with periods when the players are not active during which they can talk to each other as a group or individually about any subject they want to. It is an opportunity to be part of something that they can control, grow and own. It encourages responsibility not only to other people but to yourself and take the time to have fun and make real connections.
This, we hope, can make men feel like they have something out of their routine that they can look forward to and to give them a sense of purpose for themselves.
Within our team our and existing networks we have men who have had experience of ‘staring into the darkness’ and are willing to talk to the men as a group or individually about how they have lived through the power of talking to other men and the power of men making connections face to face. We are not able to give any advice about mental health issues, but we will signpost to Local Mental health service providers (who will occasionally be on site at the sessions), who can provide further help and advice.
#OneGameAtaTime - the sessions
The sessions will take place every Friday 7.30pm -8.30pm, at Bank Quay Sports (3g pitch outdoors), WA5 1TW.
£3.00 per session.
The entrance to the venue is on Edelsten Street next to Autobody and not at the front on Green Street. There should be ample parking on Edelsten Street and on Green Street where permitted. Please do not park illegally.