Ex International Footballer, Marcus Gayle Supporting HITG & BFCCST

In 2021, there were over 5,000 suicides registered in England. Suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 50 and around three quarters of deaths from suicides each year are men.

Mark Pinkney, Head In The Game Founder, Director and Project Lead comments, “We use football as a universal tool to start conversations by encouraging men to be open and honest about their feelings and how they are really doing. Each week we focus on a different mental health topic, which over time gives our participants a range of tools to prevent a period of poor mental wellbeing.

“With a programme like this in partnership with Brentford FC Community Sports Trust and the access to this wonderful facility, the participants feel really safe and comfortable to open up and talk in front of each other. We have also seen a remarkable increase within the group of those who have shared their mental health stories, which is great to see and hear.”

With football being used as a positive tool to starting some of those difficult conversations, it was inspiring for the participants to engage with former Brentford FC player and now Club Ambassador Marcus Gayle.

 “It’s so important for men to be able to talk and empower each other, but also to share and listen as well. We want to let everyone know that you’re not alone with this.” said Marcus.

“I’ve shared some stories with them tonight from my own journey with this (mental health). I’m not exempt, you might look at me and think ex-professional footballer ‘What problems could you have had?’ But I’m just as human as everyone out there and tonight was a valuable exercise both physically and mentally to get guys to talk and have some fun.”

The value and importance of a programme like Football For Thought cannot be underestimated and  the impact of attending a session might just save a life. Marcus concludes, “Initiatives like this should be happening a lot. It’s a great way of having different social impact with men on the football pitch where they can speak in a safe environment and hopefully we can push this along and encourage a lot more men to come along.”

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