Heads Up for the FA Cup

The Coronavirus seems to always take centre stage with news items and over the last few months people have been missing so many things. For many people the things that are missing are the very things that help with people’s mental health. Sport is starting to be played again but only at elite level and behind closed doors. However, for many this is giving people a light at the end of a tunnel and something to look forward to. Premier League football is starting this week and despite there being no crowds or places where supporters can gather this will be a real boost for sports fans.

We have often featured articles promoting mental health and have covered the Heads Up charity which back in January when the world seemed normal, delayed the start of the FA Cup games by a minute to raise awareness.

This season’s FA Cup final will be renamed the Heads Up FA Cup final to raise mental health awareness, says the Football Association. Title sponsor Emirates has agreed to the name change for the final, which is scheduled for 1 August at Wembley. The Dubai-based airline has sponsored football’s oldest knockout competition since 2015. FA president Prince William says the final can be “a moment to promote good, positive mental health for everyone”. The Duke of Cambridge has been at the forefront of a season-long campaign around mental health with the FA working alongside a group of charities in the Heads Together initiative.

Hopefully with the extra coverage that this new name will bring and the fact that this high profile competition has taken this stand can only be positive.

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It only takes a minute…

All of the 32 teams competing in the FA Cup third round ties will have their start delayed by one minute  as part of a campaign to promote mental health. These matches will take place between 3rd and 6th January 2020.

The campaign has been called the “Take a Minute” initiative and is being run in partnership with the FA’s Heads Up campaign and also Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters Programme. The idea of delaying a match by 60 seconds is such a simple idea but it is one that will reach a massive audience. The idea is for people to take some time to discuss their mental health. People can be reluctant to talk about their mental wellbeing and for footballers to be able to endorse this programme is a great way of reaching so many people. The idea is to say to people that it only takes a minute to start thinking about your mental health. During the minute delay fans will be encouraged to consider the positive impact 60 seconds can have on their own wellbeing or in supporting a friend or family.

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I will have 550 tickets please….

Celebrities and footballers have such a high profile with youngsters and especially when one used to go to the same school as you. It seems to give a much closer link with the pupils and almost makes the person one of them. The actions of such people make such a huge difference to youngsters who are so much influenced by the life of these celebrities hence the term social influencers.

Raheem Sterling used to attend Copland Community School in Wembley, this has since changed its name to Ark Elvin Academy. Sterling grew up in the shadow of Wembley dreaming of playing there as a footballer. Manchester City were struggling to sell their allocation of tickets for their FA Cup semi final game at Wembley against Brighton today at 5.30pm. Raheem Sterling put in a request to buy 550 tickets so that all the pupils from his old school could go along and watch. Not only did he buy the tickets but he invited them to City’s training ground where he met them. He was reported as saying:

It is great to be able to give these students the chance to watch a game at Wembley,” Sterling said. “I grew up right next door to the stadium and would dream of one day playing in a cup final or even representing my country there. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community that helped me get to where I am.”

I bet that every single one of the pupils who attend the game will have been absolutely blown away by this offer, a chance that many of them could only have dreamt of. Going to Wembley to watch their hero in action. There has been much bad press about Raheem Sterling in the past but recently his actions have certainly spoken louder than words. He has been a major voice in the fight against racism in football and now this. The memories for these pupils will stay with them forever and hopefully reinforce the positivity of sport. We will certainly hear the cheer from them if he scores!!

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