A group of five men from the Wakefield and Pontefract district took part in a once-in-a-life-time-opportunity at a coaching and tournament event at the David Beckham Football Academy.
The men all use South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust services and together with two members of staff they were entered as a team in the special event, which was organised to mark World Mental Health Day.
28 teams from across the country won the opportunity to take part in the day where they were taught a number of football skills by coaches at the David Beckham Football Academy. They then had the opportunity to put what they had learnt into practice during a tournament. Thanks to sponsorship by Unite the Union, and a generous agreement with the David Beckham Academy, teams were able to participate in the event at no expense.
Alan Pearson a social worker from the Pontefract community mental health team said, ‘It was a terrific day out and for some of our service users the first time they had been to London, and even their first time on a train. So everything about the day was magical, not just the football. There was a very friendly atmosphere at the football tournament and we took part in some great team building activities. It was a really worthwhile event and we look forward to hopefully taking part next year.’
The Trust’s team were made up of local men who take part in a weekly football group, which has been successfully running for several years at Knottingley sports centre. Each week up to 18 people come along to play football.
Alan Pearson said, ‘The football group seems to have captured people’s interest and we’ve seen them become not only physically fitter but also so much more relaxed. Exercise really is a great way to look after your mind as well as your body. Some of the lads from the group have even put a team together for a local 5-a-side league, so sport is integrating them further into the local community, which is fantastic and really helps combat the stigma around mental health problems.’