Sunderland dad speaks out on mental health and the 'new lease of life' from weekly football match
A Sunderland dad who set up a weekly football match to combat mental health during the second lockdown has spoken about the benefits of taking the time for yourself.
During the second lockdown, Steven Cassidy took to Twitter to set up a five-a-side football match to help himself and his son and improve their mental health.
Months later, the group are still meeting every Friday – now restrictions have eased – at the Foundation of Light and Steven says it has given him a ‘new lease of life’ during the struggles brought on by the pandemic.
The 36-year-old said: “I’m a full-time carer for my wife and it’s been a massive help for me with my mental health and a big help for the other lads too.
"When your a kid you take it for granted. When you get older and have responsibilities you sort of push things to one side.
"Even though it’s just for 50 minutes a week it gives you that little bit of time for yourself. It’s given me a new lease of life.
"I love being a father and a husband and I would never change that for the world but just that little bit of time for me and my health makes a huge difference.”
Steven, who lives in Grangetown, plays alongside his 16-year-old son Connor, old school friends and people that he met for the first time through social media.
His dad, Steven Cassidy Snr, organised a five-a-side team for Steven Jr and his friends growing up and inspired the 36-year-old carer to do the same.
Steven, who is also dad to Summer, 13, and 10-year-old Jasmyn, turn to social media again to appeal for a sponsor so the group could get their own shirts and received a response from SAFC Fans React.
"I’d like to say a huge thank you to Paul, Shaun and Matthew from Fans React for sponsoring us,” said Steven.
"Mental health is a huge thing. Everyone slates social media, there is a lot of negatives at the moment and people get some really horrible abuse from people they don’t know. I’ve had it happen to me.
"But this is something positive with social media and it could help other groups of girls and lads who could benefit from exercise and football.”