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Notts Bloke Promotes Footie for Wellbeing

15 July 19 words: Isaac Seelochan

Mental health has been a topic which has gained considerable attention in the mainstream media over the past few years. Musicians to movie stars have raised awareness over the growing mental health problems that more and more people appear to be suffering from. Local Man Nathan Kenny is using his experience and the beautiful game to tackle the issue; Isaac Seelochan went along to a session to find out more.

From Left: Nathan, Patrick, Saul and Richard

When it comes to men opening up about their mental health, they find it much more difficult than women. A survey conducted by the NHS found that women were more likely than men to report symptoms of common mental disorders, including depression and anxiety, with 10% of women surveyed reporting severe symptoms compared to 6% of men. 

Since the beginning of May, Nathan Kenney has helped to organise ‘Wellbeing Football’, a weekly get together for men over the age of 18 every Wednesday in Carlton. The hour-long sessions involve 30 minutes of football, followed by a ‘cuppa and chat’ for the final half-hour.   

“The idea stemmed from being in the gym where I was just speaking to everyday blokes and I was finding that you build up a relationship when you’re training with people - they were opening up to me, disclosing some quite personal information,” said Nathan. 

“I’m in recovery personally and I found out that you’re everyday bloke suffer from problems quietly, so I just wanted to provide a platform where they could go whilst using football as a hook.” 

The football part of the session is run by former Notts County, Derby and Burton Albion goalkeeper, Saul Deeney, who now works as a lead coach for Notts County’s football in the community programme.

“I’ve been at the level where the pressure is immense and having come out of football this is good for me,” he says. “It’s alright in the professional game where people can get help quite easily, but people outside of that obviously need the support of groups like this. You don’t need to be coming here because you’ve got a mental health problem.” he adds, “You can come here, get a bit fitter and if you can help yourself and everyone else do that then it’s a bargain.”

Saul offers coaching tips to players

Two of the men who have been regularly going to these sessions are Patrick and Richard. Both of them have been suffering from personal problems, but these sessions have given them something to look forward to every week. “I’m in recovery and the guy who was my sponsor is a mutual friend on Facebook, so when I heard that there were people here who had similar issues, I thought that this would be a good place to get fit. I’ve lost a stone in 2 weeks,” revealed Patrick.  

“I suffer from anxiety. I’m not good at meeting new people,” said Richard. “I’ve been in Nottingham for four years and I’ve only just started getting out of the house since January, so for me, it’s just about getting out and about, meeting new people to try and open myself up.

“I’ve got a little kid who’s 14 months now, but I went through postnatal depression and I was on the verge of doing things. Basically, I just snapped and spoke out and it snowballed. Since January I’ve been going to the children’s centre three or four times a week to do different things and now this, so I’ve got something to do every day now. It was hard to come here for the first time, but it’s got easier and easier.”   

Nathan understands the importance of physical activity when it comes to improving your mental wellbeing and although it is still early days for these sessions, the idea of having men talk about mental health can only be a good thing. 

“Just coming to these sessions, the physical aspect is good for your wellbeing,” says Nathan. “It’s just very informal. We sit here with a cup of tea and have a chat - there’s no therapy going on. We have touched upon quite sensitive issues but it’s been natural, it’s not been forced.” 

Wellbeing football is on every Wednesday evening at Carlton Forum Leisure Centre, 19:30 - 20:30 for £5 per session.       

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