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Eleven Portraits of Football in Sheffield

On Thursday afternoons a group get together at Woodbourne Road to play football. They all use mental health services in the city, and the game is partly organised by Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

We arrive to see that a match is in full flow, and meet Kevin, who helps to run the initiative. “It’s an old story, but football engages people. It changes the way these lads view themselves and the world around them, they build friendships and networks of support.”

We learn that the group have just decided on a name for their team: Brunsmeer Awareness, and that they are entering tournaments across the city. The Sheffield United Community Foundation recently got involved, and Kevin tells us how one of their coaches, Keith, is getting the lads onto courses and that their confidence is building. Kevin beams with pride about the team spirit in the group: “they support each other, they play for each other”.

Solidarity is the word that comes to mind.

One of the group takes a tumble and turns on his ankle, I wince as I recall my past injuries. The game stops and a concerned crowd gathers. Eventually, with the help of his mates, the player gets to his feet. One of the lads, Michael, tells us: “we don’t forget anyone”, another, Richard, remarks: “it’s a family; we have responsibilities to each other”.