Tackling mental health through football

Swindon Town Football Club Community Trust have been working in conjunction with MIND, a mental health charity providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, as a part of The Every Player Counts project since September 2016.

STFC Community Trust are just one of many EFL club trusts who offer sessions with MIND, structured to enable participants suffering a mental health issue the opportunity to take part in football coaching sessions, social interaction and physical exercise within a safe environment.

One particular participant, life-long Swindon Town supporter, Ian Tanner, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar, has had the best attendance record missing only one session since September.

Participants of the sessions experience a range of mental health complications, which can have an affect on attendance if they are feeling particularly unwell on the day that they are unable to attend.

Ian had to resign from his employment position due to his diagnosis and acute mental health issues, which consequently caused a great strain on his relationship with his wife, leading to their separation and divorce in 2001.

He now lives alone in Swindon and talks openly about his conditions. Due to the high volume of dosage of medication, Ian in his own words ”continually battles against his weight.”

MIND pic 2

Ian, who is now 54, tries to engage within as many sporting opportunities as he possibly can and has attended over 90% of the sessions since joining. Sessions include light jogging, coaching drills such as passing, ball control, dribbling, running with the ball, shooting drills and dependant on numbers, invariably finish with a small sided game.

Ian said: ”The sessions really push me and have certainly increased my confidence levels. I feel very positive after I have finished the sessions. I am the eldest in the group and feel very proud that I am able to engage with the others doing the sport I have loved all my life. I work part time in a local café and I really enjoy telling the customers and the people I work with how much I am enjoying the sessions.”

Lorraine Heath, MIND Charity Co-ordinator said: “STFC Community Trust have delivered 10 weeks of constructive, active and enjoyable sessions, enabling many people known to MIND to engage and feel part of something special. The participants have all clearly enjoyed the sessions, and we want to try and increase the attendance and commitment of the participants.”

To find out more about STFC Community Trust visit: http://stfitc.co.uk/


The Every Player Counts project was made possible thanks to a £1.1m donation from the Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST).

The programme covers a wide range of disabilities with the simple aim of getting more people involved in sport. 25 EFL clubs run The Every Player Counts programmes that are tailored to the specific needs of their local community.

To find out more about Every Player Counts visit: www.efltrust.com/projects/every-player-counts/