'Head in the Game' named official charity partner for PFAI

Sun, Oct 10 2021
Head in the Game Park

Head in the Game Park Credit: Ben Whitley (ETPhotos)

The 10th of October is World Mental Health Day and, to mark the occasion, it was announced on Twitter earlier today that Head in the Game are now an official charity of the PFAI and will sponsor the Young Player of the Year award at the end of the season.

Speaking on the back of this announcement ‘Head in the Game’ Chairperson Dean Arrowsmith said, “It’s both a privilege and an honour for all involved in ‘Head in the Game’ to be given this opportunity and we are grateful to both Stephen and Simone in the PFA Ireland for allowing us to present the award in our name.”  

“It’s just over a year ago since we set out to ignite a conversation within the Irish footballing community around positive mental health and we’ve been completely overwhelmed how well received our campaign has been to date,” continued Mr. Arrowsmith.

We never would have imagined that one year on, we would be given this chance. We’re really looking forward to working closely with the PFA Ireland in the coming months and years; collaborating on initiatives that are of a particular benefit to players in clubs throughout the league.”

PFA Ireland General Secretary Stephen McGuinness said, “The PFA Ireland are delighted to announce “Head in the Game” as our official charity partner. Raising awareness of mental health difficulties and providing support to those affected, is one aspect of the support the PFA Ireland have been providing to our members and their families.

“With “Head in the Game” being a volunteer driven, grass roots initiative, we feel it is important to provide the campaign with as much support as possible and by doing so, we hope this will enhance our existing efforts in this area and assist with developing a platform to raise awareness of mental health issues among the wider community.”

Head in the Game is a supporter-led mental health initiative which was set up in August 2020 to encourage people to speak about their mental health. Their launch saw a number of League of Ireland personalities team up to take part in an awareness video based on a poem entitled, ‘Don’t Let Your Floodlights Go Out’ which can be viewed here.

In the subsequent 14 months, they have partnered with Mental Health charities Shine and Jigsaw, released a number of podcast episodes, announced female (Katie Burdis – DLR Waves) and male (Dave Rogers- ex-Shels and Dundalk) ambassadors and launched a leisure range with Umbro, including a home and away jersey and a zip top, to promote awareness of the importance of promoting positive mental health.

These tops have since been worn by players throughout the league, most recently by Brendan Clarke,  current PFAI chairperson, on Friday night.  

After teaming up with the FAI earlier this season, all captains of League of Ireland and Women’s National League sides wore Head in the Game armbands during May to mark Mental Health Awareness month.

Despite Head in the Game being originally founded in Dundalk, it is in Drogheda where the name is now present in most League of Ireland conversations as United Park has been renamed Head in the Game Park courtesy of local councillor Joanna Byrne and an innovative sponsorship initiative run by the club which can be read about here.

This news is further evidence of the inroads being made across Irish football to increase the awareness of the importance of speaking about mental health and promote the message: Listen to each other, Talk to each other, Look after each other.

Further information about Head in the Game can be found through their Twitter account @HeadInTheGameIE.



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