A ‘Game Of Two Halves’ highlights the stories and case studies of our participants journeys through Head In The Game and beyond.
The HITG ethos is excellent. The project is incredible and a great outlet for those who attend, it’s also good for building new relationships.
Thanet Participant July 2021
The project has given me something to focus on and look forward to each week. Knowing I’m not alone in how I feel has been a big help.
Thanet Participant Sep 2021
I cannot praise this programme enough. I can feel the change in myself for the better and I could see it in others too. Well done HITG.
Medway Participant May 2022
Playing football twice a week now and feel a lot fitter mentally and physically. This is all down to HITG and how it’s impacted my life. Great service and great coaches. Massive well done and thank you to all.
Thanet Participant April 2022
Before I started I thought “how would playing football help with my mental health?” but being there and being a part of Head In The Game has changed my physical and mental health for the good.
Maidstone Participant May 2022
I would like to personally thank the HITG team for providing this opportunity for me. It has been a valuable experience and look forward to it’s continued support and involvement in the future.
Medway Participant June 2022
The weekly sessions are something that I really look forward to each and every week. Getting to play football again, try different training drills and importantly to have a shared forum both in person and digitally have brought joy and a feeling of acceptance to my life. Knowing that I’m not alone in my mental health journey is of great comfort. I am grateful to the HITG team for providing this service not only to me but to all those that attended my 12 week programme, but the other programmes run during the same period and future programmes for other people. The team deserves huge credit for starting such a great project and for their ongoing dedication to deliver such a helpful service.
Medway Participant May 2022
Attending the 12 week programme was a personal change and added some social structure to my week. During the 12 weeks I felt my fitness improve from the weekly sessions which inspired me to do more fitness, so I started doing some strength training at home. Although I have been working on incorporating yoga sessions into a morning routine since the beginning of the year, I’ve found my personal discipline has improved in trying to attain a daily practice during the last 12 weeks. Thank you, Head In The Game.
Medway Participant June 2022
HITG has been a rock for me in last 12 weeks and I really don’t know where I would be in terms of my well-being without it. I have started to think more positively and not focus on the negative aspects that life throws at me. It has been a very rewarding experience and I have benefitted from the well-being coping techniques that Mark has taught me and also the wisdom shared by the other guys who lift me up. We feed of each other’s positivity in an environment where we can talk openly and be heard without prejudice. Men generally do not express ourselves as we worry about our image and appearing vulnerable so this platform gives us the freedom to say what is on our minds. If HITG was available nationally I believe it would help society immensely, so much so that doctors would prescribe HITG sessions instead of drugs to lift one’s mental well-being. The fact remains a healthy body, which HITG delivers each session, leads to a healthy mind. Long may it continue!
Medway Participant May 2022
In September 2012 my wife and I received news we wished no perspective parents would have to hear… your son may have severe disabilities. Months and months of travelling to London hospitals followed and our baby boy was born in January via c-section to ensure he had the best chance of survival. An anxious few days followed and then we were discharged not knowing if there were any issues as all tests came back clear. We lived in fear (and hope) that something would come up over the coming months. By the summertime we had the all clear that our boy was ok and there was no evidence of anything being a problem. The relief and emotions were overwhelming. Since then, we have welcomed another son and life is and has been great…
This was until March 2020 when Covid 19 hit the UK. Lockdown and being trapped at home. Yes, I had my kids with me (my wife is a school teacher so had to be at school) but the feelings of loneliness, isolation and dread filled every single day. This was my life at this point, and it certainly wasn’t nice. Every day felt like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. Wake up, take the dogs out, be dad, cook dinner, take the dogs out again, go to sleep, Repeat. Every single day was like this. The only real upsides were my children and spending so much time with them and believe it or not – PE with Joe. I had a focus and something to work with on a daily basis. These 30-minute workouts were getting me through the day, I felt alive again.
But… things were still mentally not good, physically I was getting in the best shape I’ve been in… mentally I was frail. I was struggling and didn’t know what to do.
Things started to ease slightly and then BANG… I was being made redundant due to the end of the governments furlough scheme. A huge blow and this was the last thing I needed. I was low, I was desperate, and I had a family to support. Luckily, I found a new role very quickly, but this involved working from home for 100% of my time. My children and wife were not home as school had returned and I was feeling lower than ever. Every day was still the same, but I was stuck in the same 4 walls by myself every day. Mentally I was done. The thought of doing the same days anymore just didn’t appeal to me.
Luckily, we went back into a national lockdown in January, and I had my children for company again. We found out on New Year’s Eve we are expecting again and that is something to really look forward to. My workouts had gone from strength to strength, and I was now working advanced workout cycles and in February we moved to Minster in Kent to our dream family home. Things were looking a bit better.
On one of my first dog walks I found a poster for a Football Project called Head In the game. This was aimed at men aged between 25-55 and I sat and thought on this for a few days. Early March came and the kids were back to school, my wife was travelling further for work and the days became what felt like a lot longer again. On March 11th I finally thought why not? And registered to attend this Head In The Game project… it was a good few weeks before it would start and I was in good shape so thought why not…
April 12th came round and the first session was upon us. I’d actually decided in the morning of the session that I wasn’t going to attend. I just hadn’t socialised with anyone in so long I was very anxious. I don’t have many friends, and the thought of meeting new people just didn’t appeal to me. My wife told me I should go and it would be good for me to get out of the house…. so off I went. The venue was only a 3 minute walk from my house so I went along. I was met by people from TCFC (The Charitable Football Club) who are associated with the project and they put me at ease immediately.
They started the session (as they do every session) asking the men to score themselves out of 10 as to how we are feeling. I was brutally honest. I’m a 5. I’m stuck at home most of the time, and rarely get out. No judgement, no comments, nothing. Just an appreciation I’d opened up and a well done.
Then the football began. I hadn’t played or trained in a long time. I coach my sons under 9’s team, but this was different… I could play and get involved. We partook in 2 football drills and then had a match to finish the session.
The end of the session arrived, and they asked our scores again. I had gone up to a 9. I was buzzing. Great to be playing football again and man I had missed it!
The next week came, then the next. We even had TV crews coming down to talk to the guys about the project. I was asked to talk to BBC South East news which was a phenomenal honour to do. After this I was asked to become an ambassador for the project which I was delighted to accept and since then I now even coach some sessions. I haven’t missed a single session yet and am loving the impact the project is having on my mentality. I also know this is helping the other participants massively too.
Things haven’t changed massively with regards to my situation. I’m still at home (but not alone as my wife is now on maternity leave), I still have bad days …. but the main difference is I can now talk about and share when I’m feeling down in the HITG led WhatsApp group and the lads are super supportive. I have something to look forward to every Tuesday (and sometimes Thursdays in Maidstone) and I’ve made a group of friends which is something I haven’t ever really had since I hit my 30s.
I’m very grateful this project exists and am very proud to be involved and helping where I can. You don’t need to suffer in silence and this project is a great platform to share your experiences and know you are not alone.
Thank you HITG
When COVID hit in 2019 I was sent home from my job in retail to my small studio flat in London to isolate with my partner. It was the start of a difficult time for so many people but at the start, for me it was relatively enjoyable. The time away from normal life was in many ways a relief but as it went on I started to realise my mental health was suffering. Not only did I realise it was bad during the pandemic, but I started to understand how much I had suffered in the past. My inability to talk to others about how I was feeling was having a serious effect.
When I was eventually made redundant after months of furlough, I was devastated. I felt like a failure and losing my job meant that myself and my partner had to move back to my family home in Thanet. It took me over 8 months to find a new job, to find someone to talk to in the form of a counsellor and for us finally to have our own place again.
A lot has happened since then, I joined Head in The Game in October 2021 after searching for a team to join where I would be welcomed. But what I have found is more than that, it’s also a space where it’s okay to have a bad day. More recently, I have unfortunately lost my job again but this time it’s not so devastating. I know I have a routine now, and there’s always playing football on Tuesday night to look forward to.