Mental health

New football team will tackle mental health issues

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A staff member at a British university is helping everyone from friends to complete strangers to improve their mental health through their shared love of football

Sean Davies’ own experiences inspired him to create Stay Strong United to give people the opportunity to be active as well as be a safe space to voice their feelings and share with others, in the hope that it can help them mentally.

Davies, who works with Coventry University’s apprentices, said: “I decided to set up this mental health football team to support myself and others to go out there and utilise football as a foundation to improve their mental health.

“You have a platform to go and just play football, make some friends, talk openly about how your week has been and talk about your mental health, knowing this is a safe environment.”

Stay Strong United is open to anyone aged 18 or over, male or female, of any footballing ability.

For Sean, 33, it isn’t the result on the pitch that matters, but the one off it.

He said: “It is literally just a casual recreational kickabout where at the end you can form some friendships, you can find someone else out there in the same mind as you, and we can improve your mental health.

“It’s for everyone out there. ”

 Stay Strong United will be taking part in a festival hosted by the West Midlands Mental Health League on 26 June which also involves Sky Blues in the Community – Coventry City FC’s charity arm – as well as similar foundations from clubs such as Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion.

An 11-a-side match is also being organised for 14 July against Solihull MANvFAT.

One person inspired to get involved with the team was Sean’s Coventry University colleague Bright Omenogor.

He said: “The moment I saw it, it was really nice. I saw the whole thing about mental health and was like ‘I love this – I would like to be a part of this journey’.

“I spoke to Sean and I got the whole narrative of what this is about and here I am.

“We try to share stuff about mental health as well because the rate of suicide nowadays is really not great.

“If there’s something bugging you, talk to somebody about it.

“Any way that we can reach out and help ourselves as people, as human beings, I am absolutely down for that…and I love football.

“So, football and mental health…let’s see how far we can go.”

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