Leyton Orient Head of Academy, Lewis Spencer, took some time out of his hectic schedule to visit the Douglas Eyre sports centre in Walthamstow on Thursday to meet up with the participants of the highly successful mental-health football project ‘Coping Through Football’.
Coping Through Football (CTF) is a transformational project that demonstrates how two sporting charities, London Playing Fields Foundation (LPFF) and Leyton Orient Trust (LOT), can work with the NHS (in the shape of NELFT) to produce a sustainable recovery model approach to engage with and improve the wellbeing of adults and young people experiencing mental health issues utilising football as its nucleus.
Now in its eleventh season, the project continues to evolve and educational workshops and presentations from key organisations are now regularly included throughout the year.
Leyton Orient are a significant part of the success with player’s and members of staff frequently supporting the project including current Director of Football Martin Ling as was last season’s Player in the Community award winner Alex Lawless.
Due to this season’s move from Nike to new kit supplier New Balance, Lewis suggested that his staff’s uniform be recycled rather than disposed of and chose the CTF project as recipients, something that the participants were overwhelmed by.
Howard Gould, lead coach for LOT on the project, said, “The service users were amazed that they were to receive all the Nike gear worn by the Academy staff. It’s all fantastic quality and in excellent condition and all branded with the O’s badge, so they were extremely excited and sincerely grateful. And Lewis’s presentation was spot on. He kept the group enthralled with fascinating facts whilst keeping it humorous and engaging.”
The project has expanded over the years and also has sessions in Redbridge located at the Powerleague in Fairlop. Lewis had been invited to repeat his presentation there later in the year and said, “I was absolutely delighted to attend Coping Through Football. I really enjoyed interacting and fielding some really good questions from the group.
“I was privileged to work on a similar project to this back in 2003. To go back to my roots and share my experiences with the lads was something I really enjoyed. Mental health can affect anyone and it’s important that it’s not seen as a barrier to both personal and physical development and overall wellbeing. This is a wonderful project that Howard, the OC’s, other staff and the players can be immensely proud of.
“I hope the players can enjoy wearing our training kit and it inspires some of the lads to come along the Breyer Group Stadium and cheer Ross [Embleton] and the boys on.”
Barbara Armstrong, NELFT Occupational Therapist, said, “Many thanks to Lewis for his great presentation. The support of LOFC is always appreciated.”
If you would like more information on Coping Through Football, please visit the https://www.copingthroughfootball.org/contact/ website page.