Middlesex FA is pleased to be part of a new mental health champions scheme launched by The Football Association [The FA], to provide advice and support to grassroots match officials across the county.
The launch in Middlesex comes as the nation prepares for Mental Health Awareness Week (10 – 16 May), with emphasis being placed on stepping up the fight for mental health.
The transformative scheme, believed to be the first of its kind for grassroots match officials in any sport, aims to create an open environment so that everyone involved in the refereeing community in Middlesex can talk openly about mental health and be supported.
As a founding signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and the Heads Up Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, The FA has worked closely with Mind to co-design the mental health champion role to help tackle the stigma of mental health within refereeing.
As part of the scheme, our volunteer Robert Was from within the grassroots refereeing community will champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as points of contact for any match officials aged 18 or over experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.
19 County FAs now have a refereeing mental health champion in place and the intention is to expand the scheme nationally during 2021.
Richard Glynne-Jones, FA National Referee Manager said: "The mental health and wellbeing of people is more important now than ever, and The FA is committed to putting important steps in place to support our grassroots match officials. This scheme will help create a culture that promotes positive mental health amongst our refereeing community, encouraging honest and open conversations and breaking down the historic stigmas to inspire positive change. We are grateful for support of Middlesex CFA in driving the scheme forward and we look forward to working with other County FAs on this over the course of the year.”
Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said: “Mental health is gaining increasing visibility in football, which is hugely encouraging. But while the mental health of fans and players is now being talked about more than ever, it’s vital that we address the wellbeing of everyone involved in the game, not least referees, who face a unique set of challenges that could affect their mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with The FA, and our training partner Washington Mind, on this ground-breaking scheme to support the mental health of grassroots match officials across the country.”
Daniel May, Workforce Development Officer for Middlesex FA, said: “As in all walks of life, Mental Health is something which is of huge importance, and for our referees that’s no different. We are extremely excited by this new scheme and believe it can go a long way to ensuring referees are supported in every possible way through their journey as a match official. As is commonly known, refereeing can be a stressful role, so this offer of further support to our officials is something which we believe will be invaluable to them."
Middlesex FA’s mental health champion is Robert Was.
Robert has been a senior County Referee for over 20 years. He is active in the volunteer sector, providing care calls to the wider community and has vast experience of counselling individuals facing difficult situations, both physically and mentally.
The mental health champion role will enable Robert to help Middlesex CFA referees to deal with the various challenges they face throughout their refereeing careers.
If you have a mental health problem and would like to have a confidential conversation, then please first make contact with Robert at RefereeMentalHealthChampion@middlesexfa.com