THE coaches of Cliftonville Ladies’ Academy teams will lace up their boots and swap the touchline for the pitch as they take on the parents of the various youth teams at the club in a charity game on Sunday to show their support for Mental Health Awareness Week.
The game which kicks off at 2pm at Solitude, was organised by Cliftonville Ladies U15 coach Nick Casey and is in association with the IFA and TAHMI (Tackling Awareness of Mental Health Issues) Cliftonville’s official charity partner, to raise awareness of mental health issues in the local community.
Casey has recently appointed as the IFA Mental Health Champion for the North Belfast region and in the role will work with TAHMI, a local charity who tackle mental health issues and promote resilience through sport.
They will collaborate as part of the Ahead of the Game project which aims to use sport to teach players, parents, and coaches how to talk about mental health.
He says that he and those taking part in the game are “really looking forward to it” despite the challenges organising the game has posed due to the sheer size of the Reds’ academy programme, and the number of parents willing to participate.
“It should be a good day and the start of a great journey with TAHMI in encourage positive mental health,” said Nick.
“Their banners will be around the stadium, and we will be using their bibs in the warmup to promote the charity.”
Casey believes that the main aim of Sunday’s game is to raise awareness in the North Belfast area of the mental health issues which exist in the community, and how sport can play a part in addressing them.
“Keeping fit is great for aiding physical health which can then have a huge impact on mental health, so evidently sport can play a big role in helping people improve their mental health, especially here in North Belfast,” he added.
“It is an area which has struggled massively with the stigma of mental health since the Troubles, with problems from that and issues such as suicide rates still plaguing us as a community.
“I want people to come away from Sunday knowing that myself and TAHMI’s are here to promote positive mental health through football and to help those who are struggling.”