Plans are underway for Samaritans volunteers to visit football clubs across the county to emphasise the importance of good mental fitness to players and their management.
Clare District Soccer League (CDSL) approached Samaritans of Ennis and Clare to team up with them and deliver pitch side talks to approximately 35 teams over the coming months.
More than 1,000 players of all genders and abilities from 16 to mid-40’s play in the league.
Margaret MacMahon, a volunteer and director with Samaritans in Ennis, said good mental health is just as important as physical health.
“Our aim is to attend as many training sessions as possible, but instead of speaking about match performance, we’ll be chatting about mental health. How we can be aware of it, how we can improve it, how we can nurture it, and, most importantly, what to do if all isn’t well.” said Margaret. “The idea behind it is to normalise the conversation around mental health and make it ok to talk about our mental health, the same way players would discuss a sports injury. No one can play to the best of their ability if they are not both physically and mentally well. We are very grateful to Clare and District Soccer League for this initiative.” Samaritans of Ennis and Clare are also partnered with Fairgreen Celtic who display the 116 123 on their jerseys and promote and support the work of the branch.
Samaritans operate the only 24-hour emotional support helpline in Ireland, with volunteers available 24/7 on 116 123. This number is free from any phone and the number does not show up on a phone bill.
Margaret said everyone involved in a team sport – every player, coach and supporter – should be aware of their own mental health and try to support others around them.
“Nobody should suffer alone. We would encourage anyone struggling to cope to reach out for support or call an organisation like Samaritans on freephone 116 123,” she added.
Richard Cahill, of Clare District Soccer League (CDSL), welcomed the partnership with Ennis Samaritans, which will see the 116 123 number promoted across the clubs.
He said: “We are all far too aware of the potentially horrific consequences of poor mental health; so CLDC decided let’s do something, anything, to help people realise they are not alone there is always someone there to listen, and a problem shared will lighten any burden. This is about raising awareness.”
For more information on the partnership – or to enquire about becoming a volunteer with Ennis Samaritans, contact email@example.com.