Football team launched to support men with mental health struggles with socially distanced training sessions

A new football team aimed at tackling issues around mental health has been launched with the game plan of supporting players both on and off the pitch.

Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 4:21 pm

East Durham False Summit Seminars FC has been set up by friends Alan Wilkinson and Lee Cudlip with the aim of providing an environment of support, togetherness and inclusion.

Using the focus of grassroots sport as common ground, the Peterlee team has already brought around 23 men together – many of who have suffered mental health issues such as anxiety and depression – so that they can share experiences and support one another.

Players aged between 18 to 40, joined the team before the coronavirus lockdown hit, but until recently they had been unable to meet up for training sessions.

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Coach Alan Wilkinson (centre) with the team's co-founder Lee Cudlip (behind), with players Shaun Myers (left) and Brian Chapman (right). Photo by Grant Robson.

Despite this, the group stayed in contact through its Facebook group to make sure everyone felt supported.

Now the group plan to hold socially-distanced training sessions in small groups each week at Helford Road Pavilion in Peterlee on Wednesdays and Sundays.

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The team launched their official home and away strip in July, thanks to sponsorship from Peterlee Town Council; Robert Dove from Rapid Military Vehicle Restoration and Sasha Quillan from business Finishing Touch.

East Durham False Summit Seminars FC has been set up to support men with their mental health. Photo by Grant Robson.

And now the side is hoping to break the stigma around mental health and encourage men to talk.

Coach Alan, 34, said: “We set up the team prior to the Covid-19 lockdown with the plan to coincide it with some courses such as confidence building and CV writing.

"We had three training sessions before the lockdown but everyone still kept in touch with each other throughout on a group chat.

"The skills sessions are to come, but work on them is in progress, but we are helping people remotely in the meantime with the likes of housing, filling in forms, job searches and CV’s.”

The idea has also been met by a wave of support from the likes of Durham councillor Karon Liddell, who is said to have offered help with funding for league fees; as well as fundraising support from the likes of Peterlee pub the Black Bull.

Anyone interested in sponsoring or joining the team is asked to contact Alan Wilkinson on: 07919481122.

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