Steve’s Story: Football for better mental health

We’re always proud to share our fundraisers’ inspiring stories and this month we had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Bell about Talking Football, which is a community of men with an interest in football for better mental health.

Steve raised £5,790 this year in aid of our local services, and we’re so grateful for his outstanding support.  Read all about Steve’s inspiring journey here…

Tell us the story behind talking football?
The story behind Talking Football comes from my own experience and daily battle with my own mental health. I have been dealing and managing this for some time now and not always succeeding. I approached my local community centre in Blackrod, Bolton, about starting a group for men and boys my son’s age (16) to come down and just play football. I thought that this would give everyone a common interest to focus on rather than any problems they may have, not even mental health, but physical health too. It’s important that we look after ourselves completely. With football being one of the biggest sports in the country, and also a huge passion of mine I knew it would me and so just thought it would help others too.

On 4 April the first session took place and there was just 6 players, when we played the charity match at the end of July we were regularly having 25 men turning up to play. This has allowed us to make old friendships more solid, but also allowed us all to make new friendships. We visit the pub after we play and continue banter while we eat the food provided by the pub, and have also had a few social evenings and afternoons. Many of the players have become very close friends of mine now and it’s fantastic walking through the village waving and chatting to all these people it’s become like a brotherhood.

What motivated you to fundraise for Manchester Mind?
Earlier this year, my daughter made mental health ribbon key rings and raised £54 for (national) Mind, but I wanted any money raised to stay local to help, particularly men, with mental health facilities and support. So Manchester Mind was what I chose it is really as simple as that.

What did you enjoy and learn from organising the charity event?
This was surprisingly fun, it took up quite a lot of my time, sorting individual player photos with business sponsors logos on, Facebook posts and kit, but it all came together nicely and I was helped by a few of the lads so it wasn’t all on me. The fact we put together a great event in just 6 weeks and raised the amount of money we did in that time is phenomenal. We know we can do better next year having a lot more time to do it. We will do another match and will look to make it an all day event at the venue. But the main thing I learnt in the whole process is what an amazing community Blackrod is, as everyone bought into the day and supported it.

Any other feedback/comments you’d like to share?
I would like to thank Manchester Mind, in particular Aashni Shah for her support before, during and after – all the while making sure that I was looking after myself too. I have also decided that helping mental health is something I would love to do long term as a career, but at the moment I only have qualifications in life and my personal experience.