On the pitch in the early spring sunshine, Luke weaves through teammates and opponents linking the play and looking every inch the fit and talented footballer. Luke is an intelligent and articulate young man with insight way beyond his years. Things didn’t look so bright 18 months ago. In the middle of a personal crisis, Luke had lost his sense of purpose.
In a very dark place, Luke was experiencing depression, chronic anxiety, and debilitating agoraphobia. Having dropped out of school, Luke was on powerful medication and despite lots of one to one therapy, his life was on hold. He had even lost his life-long passion for football.
Desperate for help, he stumbled upon Coping Through Football. Struggling to revive his passion, Luke found new friends and a place where players are encouraged “to leave their problems on the sidelines” and engage in a way that best suits their individual needs. Coping Through Football is somewhere “you go along to play football but you almost accidentally join a community”; a place where it’s not overtly about mental health but where support is just below the surface. This inclusive and warm environment coaxed Luke out of his shell and his love of the game was re-ignited.
“The more time I spend outside the better I feel”
The project became Luke’s bridge to recovery and the means through which milestones such as meeting new people and using public transport were achieved. A year on, as Luke’s levels of confidence and concentration have returned, he is now flat out, back at school doing A-Levels and contemplating a career in medicine.
The 'Coping Through Football' program is delivered by London Playing Fields Foundation and NELFT. To find out how you can get involved, and how the program can support you, visit https://www.copingthroughfootball.org/
To get in contact with your local mental health service in London, Essex, Kent & Medway, please visit www.nelft.nhs.uk/our-services