A new collaboration could see wellness hubs being set up in football clubs across rural Wales, to help those living in farming communities with their mental health.
In a special seminar arranged by the Farmers’ Union of Wales at the FUW pavilion at the Royal Welsh Showground, Noel Mooney, CEO of the Football Association of Wales, said that the association wants to utilise the network of football clubs across Wales to ensure that the mental health of those who feel isolated is supported.
The FUW is supporting this initiative and will work alongside the FAW to identify areas that could benefit from having such hubs. Currently there are around 950 football clubs across Wales.
We would like these clubs to become a hub where people can come together and see what a better life could look like in terms of mental and physical health,” said Mr Mooney.
“We want to work with the likes of the NHS and the Welsh Government to try and put together services that allow a young farmer, or whoever’s involved in the football club, to have somewhere to go to talk about the issues that they face.
“We’re not experts in this field, but what we can do is bring people together. By working in collaboration with the FUW and the DPJ Foundation, and by using our network of clubs across Wales, we can work together towards our aim of ensuring that Wales is a happier and healthier country in the future."
The seminar also heard from Kate Miles, DPJ Foundation Charity Manager, who works in providing training in mental health awareness and support.
“I am grateful to both the FUW and FAW for providing this opportunity to focus on mental health and wellbeing in rural communities. We know that for many, football provides a chance to get off the farm and to engage with other people around a shared interest.
“We have the ability to train people in these clubs who are in their social setting, with their peers, to be able to look after each other and ultimately what they can do to look after themselves. Football can be another tool in the mental health toolbox and could help so many.”
FUW Senior County Executive Officer Emyr Wyn Davies said: "Mental health continues to be an issue for farmers and those living in rural communities. Whilst we have seen some progress over recent years in breaking down the stigma attached to poor mental health, much work remains to be done.
“This is an excellent opportunity to bridge the gap between young men living in rural areas and those who are involved with agriculture and their local football clubs so that we help those in need faster and better.”