Wigan campaign using football to boost mental health

The founder of a campaign which uses football to tackle mental health is urging more Wiganers to lace up for the cause.

Monday, 18th June 2018, 4:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 6:08 pm
Place 2 Place women's team

Place 2 Place, brainchild of Peter Hill, has plans afoot to recruit more players and acquire sponsors which can keep the sports group running smoothly.

Other news: Self-harming on the increase among Wigan youngstersA singer and DJ from Beech Hill, Peter launched the five-a-side football teams to help raise awareness of men’s mental health after losing four friends to suicide in two years.

The 34-year-old dad of one came face to face with the devastating effects of depression in 2014 when his best friend took his own life at the age of 30.

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Shortly after, that friend’s stepdad and brother also committed suicide. Within the space of 18 months, three men in the same family had taken their own lives.

It was following those deaths, and then the shock of another, that Peter decided to take a stand against mental health stigma, starting with a charity bike ride to Paris and then the football teams.

And while the project has enjoyed a strong start, particularly with the men’s teams, Peter is keen to keep the momentum with the women’s squads after a mixed few weeks.

“We have had loads of success with Place 2 Place,” he said. “We have three men’s teams made up of at least eight people in each squad, who play each week.

“It’s working really well, and we’re supporting each other. We can see the support network there. It’s exactly what we set up to do.

“But on the opposite side, we did a ladies’ league as well. We had a really strong start and all the sides were booming with players. But there was a big skill difference between those who had played before and the complete beginners, and you’d get scores like 25-2.

“If you’re in one of those teams it can be quite difficult. We’ve gone from 10 teams, down to four, then up to six. So we’re trying to drive support and are having a bit of a push to raise awareness of the ladies’ games.

“It’s not so much about the mental health with the ladies’ teams, it’s the men who don’t talk about it as much.”

He added: “We have sponsors coming on board too, putting extra money in. Whether you want to play for us, or be in our opposition, we just want to recruit and support that league. It’s a case of use it or lose it.

“It’s great, it’s really working more than we ever thought it would.”

Anyone wishing to join the club can ring Peter on 0793 934 6875 or send a message to www.facebook.com/Place2PlaceFC