Players from Barnet Football Club put members of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust’s (CNWL) service users’ community football team through their paces on Thursday 12 December.
Six players from Barnet FC’s 1st team squad; Mark Bryne, Jake Hyde, Nick Jupp, Graham Stack, David Stephens and Curtis Weston visited The Bridge Day Centre, an adult mental health day centre in Harrow, and took part in a coaching session and friendly match at the Harrow Leisure Centre, where the community football team train during winter.
The warm-up training session was led by Barnet FC coach, Martin Flannery, and the final score of the friendly match, which was refereed by Simon Jenkins, Occupational Therapist at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, was an admirable 5 – 3 to Barnet FC. Following the session, the Barnet FC players joined the service users’ community football team at the Bridge Day Centre for tea and cake hosted by Rethink Mental Illness and presented the goal scorers with signed footballs.
Over the past few years CNWL’s Occupational Therapy Team has been working in partnership with Barnet Football Club Community Trust to build a football team for local mental health service users in Harrow. The project is part of the ‘Let’s Get Moving’ scheme and is based at the Bridge Day Centre, which is run by national mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness. The ‘Lets Get Moving’ scheme is supported by the Harrow Health and Wellbeing Board and aims to improve both the mental and physical health of local service users.
Di Hurley, Lead Occupational Therapist, Harrow Mental Health Service/Psychological Medicine at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are grateful to everyone involved in this wonderful event. Our team had a great day and one member of the community football team told me how proud they were to have had the opportunity to play with Barnet FC.”
This event was supported by ‘Everyone Active’, who manage Harrow Leisure Centre, and who donated the space for the session. Phil Edwards, General Manager at Harrow Leisure Centre said: “We are delighted to have been able to support such a great event. The ‘Let’s Get Moving’ scheme is a fantastic initiative and this event has provided a really unique opportunity for the members of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust’s service users’ community football team to play with Barnet FC players.”
Barnet Football Club captain Graham Stack enjoyed the visit and stated the importance of giving something back to the community.
“At all the clubs I’ve been to we have done hospital visits and it is very important especially at this time of the year. I think it’s good for the people you visit too whether it’s kids or adults because it is important to help put a smile of their face. Footballers are very privileged to be in the position we are so it is vital we do our bit and appreciate how lucky we are.”
Star striker Jake Hyde also enjoyed the visit and he spoke of how heart-warming the experience was for him and his team-mates.
“It is always nice to do this sort of thing and it is important to take notice of what else is going on in the world away from football. I had a brilliant time and I think the rest of the lads did too. The patients also looked like they enjoyed it and we all had smiles on our faces throughout. To see them so excited is incredibly nice and it really does hit home how lucky we are as footballers so it was great to give something back.”
People living with mental health problems are often at a higher risk of having poor or problematic physical health. Members of the community football team have had various difficulties with their mental and physical health, including excessive weight gain, sedentary lifestyles, social isolation, stress and heavy smoking. Many people living with these problems find it difficult to engage in regular physical exercise, but the football project has helped to tackle this with weekly coaching sessions provided by coaches from Barnet Football Club Community Trust. The community football team also take part in monthly league matches with other community football teams at Brunel University Sports Centre.
CNWL’s Occupational Therapy Team are now looking at ways to further support service users who play in the community football team through football coaching training and other development opportunities. Two members of the team have now qualified to take on the role of team coach.