Street Soccer teams from Edinburgh and Glasgow arrived at Little Kerse sports complex in Grangemouth on a dreary afternoon for the first match day of the Scottish Mental Health and Wellbeing league of the 2023 season.
Players selected from Street Soccer’s mental health and wellbeing sessions formed representative sides who will compete against twelve other teams from charitable trusts and organisations over the course of the year.
The Scottish Mental Health and Wellbeing League was created in 2014 to support the recovery of individuals with lived experience of mental ill-health and tackle stigma associated with mental ill-health.
The Street Soccer Edinburgh side, led by regional coordinator Robbie Wood, are in for their third season of the competition, whilst Glasgow’s Street Soccer select is managed by mental health worker Michael Woods as he looks to expand opportunities for players engaging in sessions at Powerleague Glasgow.
Both sides brought a squad of twelve to compete in six fixtures across the day, with each match structured at 7-a-side with twelve minute games. Players were excited by the prospect of meeting new people and were delighted at the opportunity of playing football in a new environment.
Paddy, who has been engaging frequently with Street Soccer programmes in Edinburgh, spoke about the benefit opportunities, such as this afternoon, have on his own mental health.
“It’s brilliant to be back. We finished last season in November and I have been excited about it returning and getting to meet some of the like-minded people from other sides. You feel part of something, it’s something to look forward to – so it gives you a bit of structure.”
With core Street Soccer programmes and various volunteer duties filling his weekly routine, Paddy highlighted how Street Soccer is helping him through recovery.
“I’ve been sober now for 17 months and I’d be lost without Street Soccer. There’s so much going on and the support system is amazing. Getting out and about with the lads makes a real difference – even the bus through and that is a proper laugh!”
With success both and on off the pitch for both teams at this year’s first Scottish Mental Health and Wellbeing matchday, players continue to look forward to next month’s and engaging with new connections again.
- Staying well: Support the recovery of people who have lived experience of mental ill-health through football activities whilst improving their physical and mental wellbeing
- Empowering choice: Empower players who have lived experience of experience of mental ill-health to make informed and positive choices about their participation in a team sporting activity
- Improving services and support: Ensure clubs and players are signposted to appropriate advice and support as required at the right time to help their recovery
- Enabling social participation: Enable all clubs and players to fully participate in league activities thus, increasing awareness of the challenges faced by those with lived experience of mental ill-health and tackling any associated stigma
- Organisational excellence: Ensure the board, clubs and players make the most of our assets by building a culture of excellence
Participating teams: Clyde United, Dundee United, Edinburgh Street Soccer, EE Bears, Greenock Morton, North Lanarkshire Kickstart, Blacks North Lanarkshire Kickstart Reds, Partick Thistle Reds, Partick Thistle Yellows, Glasgow Street Soccer, Real Richmond, Saints Blues, Saints Yellows, United Glasgow