Mathieu Baudry spent an afternoon at a ‘Coping Through Football’ 6-a-side tournament based at the Score Leisure Centre’s 3G pitch recently, an annual event celebrating World Mental Health Day.
Coping Through Football is a transformational project that demonstrates how two sporting charities, Leyton Orient Trust (LOT) and London Playing Fields Foundation (LPFF) can work together with the NHS to produce a sustainable recovery model approach to engage with and improve the wellbeing of adults and young people who have enduring mental illness.
The tournament saw almost 100 Coping Through Football service users participate in a friendly and fun football competition and Baudry came straight from the training ground to support the celebratory occasion.
At the end of the day, the O’s defender handed out certificates and special awards to the participants including gold medals to the winning team, ‘Snapshot’, who managed to win the tournament without having a single goal scored against them!
Barbara Armstrong, Lead Occupational Therapist for Waltham Forest said: “It gives this special group of people an opportunity to mix with others and to work cooperatively together. It increases their tolerance to have to play fairly and give other players a chance.
“The tournament does have a competitive edge, but it is about being inclusive and being able to push themselves.
“Some of the service users have brought families with them today which is great for them to be able to show off their recovery to their loved ones.”
Alex Welsh, Chief Executive of LPPF said, “The first thing that we are trying to do here is fill them with confidence and self-esteem; everyone should go home from here feeling better about themselves and being able to cope with life better.
“It is also great for them because when you have mental health problems you lose the ability to communicate and it is not about the football; it is about what they gain from this experience. This is therapy for them and this demonstrates the power that football can have on their recovery.
“It is a fantastic partnership between the NHS and two charities and the positive impact that it can have on so many people.”
Baudry, who stayed behind for photos and to chat with the participants, commented, “They played some good football and you could see that they really wanted to win and that they all enjoyed themselves. They worked really well together and it was good to be able to give them their awards and have some photographs taken with them all. It’s an amazing project.”
If you would like more details on the Coping Through Football project including times and venues, please contact: Sonia Smith, Occupational Therapist, Waltham Forest Access & Assessment Team, Coping Through Football Project Coordinator, 26 Low Hall Lane, Walthamstow E17 8BE Tel: 0300 555 1242 ext 8471