Sheffield United Community Foundation (SUCF) has launched women’s mental health support football sessions to provide a safe space where participants can create new friendships, develop personal skills and improve confidence and self-esteem.
SUCF had identified the need for a women-only group given the mixed sessions were male dominated and it was felt it may be more appealing and comfortable for females who wanted to attend.
The one-hour sessions started in autumn of last year at the Goodwin Sports Centre – although they are currently paused due to Covid-19 restrictions – for women aged 16 upwards.
They consist of a football session held once a week which is aimed at developing fitness and footballing skills as well as focusing on teamwork and effective communication.
This in turn leads to stronger self-esteem and improved physical, mental and social health.
Trained mental health professionals are present to support participants either during the session, or in the social time before and after the physical activity.
The sessions take place in partnership with Sheffield Flourish, a mental health charity in the city. Anyone wishing to participate should make contact through the SUCF website, or contact Sheffield Flourish directly.
SUCF also run an open (mixed) session with Brunsmeer Awareness, who are part of Sheffield Flourish, whilst a young people’s group catering for 12 to 15-year-olds, in conjunction with ‘Strong Minds Together’ and ‘SGP Thorncliffe’ was due to start but is paused for now.
The sessions have delivered physical and mental health benefits during the pandemic with Josie Soutar, from Sheffield Flourish, saying: “Many women, myself included, didn't get the opportunity to play football at school and it can feel very daunting to join a mixed club.
“But the power of football goes beyond simply kicking a ball about; the camaraderie, the social networks, the opportunity to feel like you belong to something, are all really important parts of looking after our mental health.
“At Sheffield Flourish we are thrilled to work alongside SUFC Community Foundation to provide a mental-health safe and friendly football session for women, for all skill levels.”
Story by Liz Byrnes.