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Mental Health Champions Scheme Launched for Grassroots Referees in Liverpool

Liverpool County FA part of a new scheme launched by The FA.

Liverpool CFA 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 referees and match officials across the county.  

The launch comes as the nation prepares for Time To Talk Day on 4 February, with open conversations about mental health being more important than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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 referees and everyone involved in the referee community in Liverpool 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 Gordon Johnson from within the grassroots refereeing community will champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as a point of contact for any match officials experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.
The scheme is being piloted in 11 County FAs across the North of England and the Midlands including Liverpool and all volunteers have received mental health awareness and champion role training. 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 referees and 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 the support of the 11 County FAs involved in driving the pilot 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 referees and match officials across the country.”

Liverpool CFA’s mental health champion is Gordon Johnson.

Gordon has been involved in refereeing in a variety of officiating roles for 31 years. During that period, he has experienced his own personal highs and lows, at the same time supporting his peers through similar experiences. Refereeing keeps Gordon mentally and physically fit, allowing him to escape from the pressures of work. 

Gordon recognises that he has both good and bad days on the field of play and is a great believer in reflecting on his experiences and improving as a result. 

If you have a mental health problem and would like to have a confidential conversation, then please first make contact via to arrange a suitable time to talk. 

The County FAs involved in the pilot are: 

West Riding
Sheffield and Hallamshire 
North Riding

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