The power of football helps save man’s life

At the age of 16, Paul Davies suffered a 430 bolt electric shock whilst at work in his first role after leaving school and endured a serious cardiac arrest.

The unfortunate workplace accident left Paul with severe anxiety and unable to achieve what we had hoped so shortly after finishing secondary school.

Twelve years on from the accident, Paul has attempted to commit suicide on two separate occasions, the latest being in January this year when he took an overdose.

The father of two has since made a full recovery and is now on track in turning his life around, citing the opportunities created by Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and Creative Support as the reason for his new positive outlook on life.

Paul started his road to recovery by joining Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Social Inclusion Football League in April, which is hosted in partnership between both charitable organisations at the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre on a monthly basis.

The league has been designed to support people with needs in mental health, substance misuse, social isolation and homelessness. Since its inception in 2011, the SIFL has helped more 800 people through the power of the football and many of those, through the support mechanisms in place and their new found confidence, have moved into further education and employment.

Paul plays football in SIFL on a regular basis

Even though Paul has only been participating in the SIFL for the past six months, he has realised a lifetime ambition by becoming an FA qualified coach and is now looking forward to a brighter future and applying for paid football coaching vacancies.

Currently working on a voluntary basis for a local children’s team, Paul has just re-started playing 11-a-side football on a Saturday for the first time in seven years alongside spending quality time with his young family.

Keen to raise awareness about mental health and the impact it can have, Paul explained why the Social Inclusion Football League at Blackburn Rovers has given him the confidence to make the right changes in his life.

He said: “I lost my full time job of nine years because of mental health issues and I received my final pay off last August. I went really downhill from there because and I got myself back into a rut and every day was a struggle.

“I would wake up in the morning and every day would be a battle. My mental health problems began 12 years ago after my accident.

“I tried taking my life seven years ago and I tried once again earlier this year with an overdose, but since getting involved with Blackburn Rovers Community Trust and Creative Support, I have structure in my life again.

“They got me involved in the Social Inclusion Football League at Ewood Park and I started playing five months ago.

“I haven’t looked back since. SIFL has helped massively and the league is very well organised with everyone making you feel welcome straight away. It is good because everyone else is in the same boat and recovering from something that has impacted their life in a negative way. I am now consistently doing something which I enjoy and I now have the confidence to socialise because I found it difficult to go out and socialise.

“I have made some new friends and I am now a qualified FA Level 1 coach working towards my Level 2 qualification. I have always wanted to be a coach but I never had the belief to do it, but now I am volunteering working for a local junior team and applying for full time coaching jobs, roles I never thought I would stand a chance of doing.”

Paul, pictured with his two young children

To find out more about Blackburn Rovers Community Trust visit:

EFL Trust Wins £0.5 Million for Active Ageing

The Trust will receive £0.5M of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Active Ageing fund to help older adults stay active.

The ‘Extra Time’ project will harness the power of football clubs in the local communities to create Extra Time Hubs.

Research shows inactivity among older adults (the over 55’s) is responsible for as many deaths as smoking. 36% of over 55’s are inactive compared to 26% of the population as a whole. Research also shows those who do the least exercise stand to benefit the most.

Starting in 2018, twelve EFL clubs will run ‘Extra Time Hubs’ . The hubs will be a regular gathering place for older people to come together to socialize and to prove that you’re never too old learn to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

Based within the stadium and utilising the clubs facilities, the programme will create a community of like-minded people to shape what’s on offer. The activities will be peer led and could include anything from archery to zumba, bowls to walking football. Nothing is off the menu. The members can contribute to organising and running the groups and sessions, or just come along for the fun.

Mike Evans, The EFL Trust Director of Operations, comments:“With the support of Sport England’s Active Ageing fund, our programme will directly address inactivity in older adults right in the heart of UK communities.

”The power of our football club badges will bring people together in a comfortable, familiar environment and allow them to shape their future path to improved health and well-being.”

Sport England is investing £10 million of National Lottery money into 20 projects across England to reduce the number of inactive older adults in the country. The 20 funded projects will use activity to help tackle problems including poor mental health, dementia, loneliness caused by bereavement, and addiction.

Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England said: “People are living longer but not necessarily in the best of health. We’re excited to be supporting these 20 partners with National Lottery funding to help get older adults get active. We’ll be sharing learnings so successful approaches can be scaled-up or replicated across the country so we can help more adults lead happier and healthier lives.”

Sport England has put tackling inactivity at the heart of its strategy ‘Towards An Active Nation’. There are roughly 5.8 million inactive people over 55 in England and the number of inactive people is growing as people are living longer.

Being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age. Physically active older people have higher levels of mobility and a lower of risk of disease than those who are inactive. Ill health often means the loss of independence and is linked to social isolation and depression.

For more information on the Active Ageing fund please visit:

About Sport England

Sport England is a public body and invests more than £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport. It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active – like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.

Sport England’s Active Lives survey November 2015 – November 2016 shows inactivity levels for age 55-64 (28% inactive), 65-74 (31% inactive) 75-84 year olds (49% inactive), 85+ (72% inactive)

Sport England’s Active Lives survey November 2015 – November 2016.

The number of people aged 60 or over is expected to pass the 20 million mark by 2030 (Office for National Statistics, 2015).

First Women’s Walking Football Competition Honours Pioneers

The very first women’s national walking football tournament is set to take place in Preston, Lancashire on Sunday 2nd July 2017 to commemorate 100 years of the Dick, Kerr Ladies.

In the history of women’s football, The Dick, Kerr Ladies are the most successful team in the world. They were formed at the Dick, Kerr & Co Ltd munitions factory in Preston, Lancashire during the First World War, these very ordinary factory girls from Preston quite literally took the country by storm.

On Christmas Day 1917, 10,000 spectators came to Deepdale, the home of Preston North End Football Club, to witness the start of the most phenomenal success story in the history of women’s sport. Dick, Kerr Ladies notched up the first of many famous victories whilst raising £600 for wounded soldiers.

On Boxing Day 1920, 53,000 spectators packed into Goodison Park, Everton, to see the Dick, Kerr Ladies take on St Helens Ladies, with another 14,000 people locked out and unable to gain admission to the ground. Another victory was recorded for the Dick, Kerr team and an incredible amount of £3,115 was raised for charity.

During the War the Government appointed women welfare supervisors and sent them into the factories to oversee the physical well-being of the factory girls and encourage the development of sporting activities. Among those activities was football, and football became the official sport of the munitions girls. Almost every factory across the United Kingdom involved in war work, had a ladies football team.

Incredibly, in 1921 the FA banned womens football, setting back the development of the womens game for decades. However, the Dick, Kerr ladies continued to play football around the world until 1965 leaving behind a glittering legacy.

For more on the story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies visit

Tournament Details

The first national women’s walking football competition will be held in Preston on 2nd July 2017 to commemorate 100 years of the Dick, Kerr Ladies.

  • Teams of 6-A-Side Women (squad of up to 9 women players with flexi-substitutions)
  • Two age groups – Over 40’s and Over 50’s
  • Over 50’s Teams must consist of over 50’s Women (with two women players under 50 permitted, but with only one under 50 on the pitch at any time)
  • Over 40’s Teams must consist of over 40’s Women (with two women players under 40 permitted, but with only one under 40 on the pitch at any time)
  • National Tournament Official Rules and more information at
  • Entry fee £30 per team – plus admin fee of £2.45 if booking online at
  • tournament-tickets-28311050113
    Closing date for entries 30th April 2017.

For further information contact

Fulham FC’s FanActiv Wins at Global Sport Award

Fulham FC Foundation’s innovative fan’s health programme, fanActive, has won  international recognition as winners of the Beyond Sport ‘Best New Innovation’ Award.

Last week Fulham FC Foundation and London United – the charitable arms of London’s professional football clubs – were recognised before an audience of global sport industry delegates for the programme which has had a massive impact on men’s health.

fanAcitv, is a men’s health programme that converts existing rivalries between football fans into healthy competition to get men moving more,. The programme was launched December 2015, in partnership with the NHS, Brentford Football Club Community Sports Trust and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation.

fanActiv is the ultimate clash of London football clubs as fans compete for bragging rights in a series of physical activity challenges, and through use of a digital platform encourage their rivals to keep up. Turning the inherent rivalry between football fans into healthy competition, the programme gets London males aged 35+ moving more through weekly physical activities, fan challenges in the community and health messaging at participating clubs’ grounds.

Backed by wearables giant Fitbit UK, the programme challenges fans to ‘walk, run, cycle their way to the top of the league table’. The pilot, delivered by Fulham FC Foundation, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, and Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, produced life-changing results for participants. Among them were 244 kg total weight loss, an average of 16 hours per week reduction in sedentary behaviours, and a total BMI loss of 72.5 points.

Doncaster Legend Thrives at Foundation’s Walking Football

Prolific striker in his heyday, Laurie Sheffield notched an impressive 34 goals in just 58 games during his first of two spells at Doncaster Rovers – way back in 1965. Just last week, the 77 year old bagged himself a hat-trick in the same neck of the woods.

Laurie still gets to kick a ball about three times a week in his beloved Rovers shirt through the Walking Football programme, which was established by Club Doncaster Foundation last year.

The project is targeted at adults who are less active but still have a love and passion for football and allows both men and women to participate in the walking format of the game.

Perfect for former Rovers and Newport County AFC forward, Laurie who fittingly celebrated his return to the game at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday during the interval of the clash between the two sides.

“At first I thought, walking football! Is that a really a thing? But I’ve been involved for 12 months now and I’ve loved every minute.” He said. “There’s no substitute for actually being on the pitch and I can play the game I love again.”

“It releases you. When you come down here, every other problem in your life goes away.”

“For example, my wife is poorly and as much as you’ve got to get your priorities right and I’ll always look after her, sometimes we’re on each other’s backs so it’s good for both of us for me to release a bit of tension away on the pitch.”

Since its establishment, the project has completely blossomed and the initial target of 20 players has been well surpassed with 64 participants at regular sessions.

Jan Milner who been instrumental to this success explains the importance of the programme. “Walking football breaks barriers.” She said. “People often think they can’t do it but as soon as they get here they realise that actually, they are capable and it will change their life.”

“The beauty of it is that is has everything that football offers, the exercise, the competition, even down to the banter and the social aspects. It gives people the opportunity to not only re-live their footballing memories but also create new ones.”

As well as the sessions, Jan has also organised an open evening to host activities, a quiz and a ‘trip down memory lane’ on the 6th of October, which will hopefully also become a regular thing to allow an alternative to training over the winter months.

To find out more information please click here.

Nottingham County FITC Make Prominent New Mental Health Signing

Notts County FITC are at the frontline of  improving the mental health of men and women from Nottingham. FITC deliver numerous projects which have successfully improved the mental health of 100s of people across the county of Nottingham.  County are looking to increase this even more with the addition of an exciting new “signing” to the team which will add significant skill and experience.

Dr Nigel Plant has recently joined Notts County FC Football in the Community (FITC) since his retirement as Associate Professor teaching Mental Health Nursing at the University of Nottingham. A life-long Notts County FC fan and mental health specialist, Nigel has joined former Notts County FC manager and captain, Ian Richardson to work part-time on FITC’s mental health projects, offering additional support.  He commented “I believe these projects provide a unique service in a non-clinical environment, and reach out to members of the public who may be put off from seeking assistance from more formal and assessment-based services”.

FITC delivers six community mental health projects in total, including two very different projects for men and women, using multi-sports and physical activity, while achieving positive, long-term benefits for participants.

The men’s project “On the Ball” was designed nine years ago in collaboration with Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust (the local NHS mental health trust), has received several awards and is recognised as an example of national best practice among professional football clubs. The “Notts County” model has developed such a wide-reaching reputation that the team have received visits from mental health workers from Norway and Iceland in the last few months.

The project uses football to build team working, communication and social skills. It enables participants to train in a structured football environment with high quality staff. Participants benefit from a healthier lifestyle and regular activity, giving them more energy and helping them feel more positive. The project includes half-time team talks based on topical, high profile football stories, which encourage participants to open up and discuss issues such as depression, anger management, communication and team working, among others. In this way, participants benefit from positive mental health promotion in a non-clinical environment.

Meanwhile, the women’s project “Right Mind” was introduced 18 months ago and is a multi-sports and social project, which has been a success from the outset. Sessions are based around exercise which participants select from a menu of activities. These are delivered by male and female coaches in a relaxed, supportive environment. The main focus is ensuring everyone has fun by playing a range of sports and taking part in different physical activities. Participants make new friends and have the opportunity to socialise at the end of sessions.

“Right Mind” participant Kat Turner: “I feel like I am much more stable at home, it gets me up in the morning and out of the house meeting other people. I just feel it’s helping my all round mental and physical health. I’ve been losing wight ad thinking about what I eat more, and it encourages me to do things for myself which I probably wouldn’t have been motivated to do. So it’s definitely helping my confidence and motivation”.

kat turner
Dr Alan Pringle, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham (UoN) and expert on the impact of professional football on mental health: “Although many excellent professional football community mental health schemes are in existence. The longevity of the Notts County FITC mental health schemes set them apart from the others”.

Look Good Feel Good

The Club Doncaster Foundation has been continuing to help improve the lives of people within the local community.

Over the past two months, the health and wellbeing section within the Foundation have been running the Look Good Feel Good programme, in collaboration with Mencap Doncaster and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, to help people become independent, cook meals and get fit.

The programme has seen participants enjoy a question and answer session with Doncaster Rovers first team players, go to a football match, prepare and cook meals and take part in various team building activities.

Speaking about the programme, Club Doncaster Foundation community officer Nick Gillott said: “The course that we have run over the past two months has had a massive impact on the lives of people within Doncaster.

“It is great that we as a Foundation are able to positively help the local community so much and see people enjoying themselves.

“From the feedback we have received from the course, we are delighted that we have had a positive influence on the people who participated on the course and we look forward to running similar programmes in the future.

For more information on how you can get involved with the Foundation visit

You can see some of the great work that has been done by the Club Doncaster Foundation on the programme in the video below:

Men’s Health Week

It’s Men’s Heath Week this week. In keeping with one of our main goals ‘health’, our Walking Football project engages thousands of older men each year, providing an opportunity for them to live out their dreams whilst providing an excellent way to keep healthy both physically and mentally. As you get older, the opportunities to keep fit decrease, and are often limited to isolated activity, Walking Football allows the older generation to play a competitive sport in a more sociable environment. Subsequently the men return week after week and the health benefits can be massive!

Sean’s story:

“Most of our players have retired and you reach that stage where you’re looking around and wondering what to do with your life. It’s important to stay active but you’re also not as mobile as you once were and it’s hard to find things to do that you enjoy. Walking football gives us lots of motivation, the camaraderie is great and importantly it helps us to get fitter. I joined because I had diabetes and the nurse said I had to lose some weight, and by playing walking football I have and feel miles better for it. 

It’s always fun and the game can be enjoyed no matter how old you get- our oldest player is 81! However when the guys get fitter if they want to do something more competitive it’s great to have competition like the EFL Trust’s Walking Football Cup that they can get involved in”.


New National Sport Strategy Tackles Inactivity

The Football League Trust is backing Sport England’s new Strategy for the future of sport that was released this week.

As well as continuing to support people who already play sport, there will be a much greater emphasis on groups who are typically much less active such as women, disabled people and those from lower-socio-economic backgrounds. 1487811_871411929554348_345700788928764935_o

Mike Evans, Director of Operations at the Football League Trust, comments, “The new strategy places a much stronger emphasis on the benefits that taking part in sport can bring, such as improving both physical and mental health, social cohesion and reducing crime. This is an approach that 72 Football League Community Trusts in our network have been taking with considerable success for a numerous years.  For example our Female Football Development programme, is very much about getting inactive women and girls from all backgrounds involved in sport with the focus firmly on fun and fitness.”

Arsenal and England women’s footballer Jordan Nobbs visits the Stadium Ball Court on Monday to promote the Crawley old girls (COGS) initiative. COGS is aimed at older ladies who have an interest in football and was set up through the Crawley Town Community foundation with funding from the Football League Trust Female Football Development scheme. James Boardman / TELEPHOTO IMAGES 07967642437

Sport England will spend £250 million to combat inactivity as part of five-year strategy which also include dedicated funding to get children and young people active from the age of five, Mike continues. “Because football clubs are in the heart of their communities they are very effective at getting young people active. Our Trusts an incredible amount of work in schools already with programmes such as Kinder+Sport Move and Learn are getting children active as well as teaching them the benefits of healthy eating.” 32

More about the strategy

The strategy will help deliver against the six health, social and economic outcomes set out in the Government’s Sporting Future strategy.

Key features of the new strategy are:   

  • Dedicated funding to get children and young people active from the age of five, including a new fund for family based activities and offering training to at least two teachers in every secondary school in England to help them better meet the needs of all children, irrespective of their level of sporting ability
  • Working with the sport sector to put customers at the heart of everything they do, and using the principles of behaviour change to inform their work
  • Piloting new ways of working locally by investing in up to 10 places in England – a mix of urban and rural areas
  • Investing up to £30m in a new volunteering strategy, enabling more people to get the benefits of volunteering and attracting a new, more diverse range of volunteers
  • Helping sport keep pace with the digital expectations of customers – making it as easy to book a badminton court as a hotel room
  • Working closely with governing bodies of sport and others who support people who already play regularly, to help them become more efficient, sustainable and diversify their sources of funding.

Read the new strategy Towards an Active Nation.

Walk On, Walk On

Over a thousand men from across the country have been competing for a place at the prestigious St Georges Park for the Walking Football National Finals next month. Providing participants with an opportunity to live out their dreams by representing their local team, the game is a brilliant way for the older generation to stay active. Growing year-on-year, 51 of the 72 clubs took part this year, making the competition tougher than ever.

Allowing the older generation to participate in a sport that they love. The slow-paced version of the game which is aimed specifically at the over 50’s, allows participants to cover 30 miles and burn 4,200 calories over a 3 month period, just by playing for 1 hour a week.

Every May and June, we run the Walking Football Cup, in which EFL Clubs hold a local competition through their community trust. The winners are then selected to represent their club at a regional level. The top 2 teams in each region then qualify for the finals. Last year, Plymouth took the winning title with a 2-1 win in the final against Blackpool. Walking football has been growing year-on-year, and with 56 of the 72 clubs taking part this year, the competition has been tougher than ever.

Commencing in Derby on Monday 9th May, teams representing Derby County, Burton Albion, Nottingham Forest, Mansfield Town, Walsall, Crewe Alexandra, Coventry City and Wolverhampton Wanderers all made the trip to the Moorways Sports Centre to take part in the Regional Finals of the competition. Mansfield Town were the overall winners, beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the the final. 14th May will saw the remaining 4 finals take place. With over 40 teams taking part throughout the day at Blackpool, Doncaster, Exeter and Luton. The national final takes place on 7th June.