Football has a big role to play in the way we deal with issues including mental health and suicide. Being there for your mates when things get tough – whether you’re playing or supporting, winning or losing – creates strong bonds that can genuinely save lives.
That’s where the CALM Football Collective comes in.
The CALM Football Collective brings together people who love the beautiful game, both playing it and watching it. It’s about positivity, generosity and reinforcement on and off the pitch. It’s for the fans. It’s for the players. It’s for football communities across the UK.
AFC Oldsmiths, who are based in Sidcup in South East London, were the first CALM football club. Speaking on their flagship association with CALM, club secretary and striker Luis Mackness said:
“Since taking charge I’ve been able to represent a special and diverse group of lads and I wanted us to represent a good side to football. We wanted to work with specific charities and have them use us to carry their messages.
“Men’s 11 a-side at grassroots level is in rapid decline – it can be difficult to organise players and facilities while keeping people hungry – so if there’s an extra element whereby clubs can support the wellbeing of players, fans and communities, maybe we can keep these players engaged and hopefully bring in new lads that want a bit more than to just play football.
“I’ve already benefited massively since the inception of the idea. I wanted our club to be associated with the charity and it’s led to me volunteering and in turn working part time at CALM. As for the club, essentially the association with CALM allows our club to say outwardly that we recognise the battles people go through everyday and that we are willing to embrace conversations, help where we can, and make a difference going forward together. I’ve always felt that if you can make one lad less frustrated through playing football, brilliant. Fact is, this has the scope to lift thousands of football fans and those close to them.”
So far, the CALM Football Collective currently has over 250 people (kids and adults) wearing the CALM logo on their kits, and this summer events in aid of the initiative are being held everywhere from Brighton to Edinburgh.
Football’s power for bringing people together and helping people open up is invaluable. If you’re part of a CALM team, there are still those rivalries, those tears in the terraces, and those 50-50’s in the middle of the park, but you’re doing it with CALM in your mind and on your kit.
Wear the CALM badge with pride and kick off a conversation with your teammates. You just might be saving a life. Together, we can use football for good and lead a movement against suicide.
To read other inspiring football stories and to find out more about how you can get involved in the CALM Football Collective, visit: https://www.thecalmzone.net/calm-football-collective/