Football partnership tackles mental health in Welsh farming

Playing football is a great way to get physically fit, but a regular kickabout can also bring great mental health benefits for farmers.

This is the focus of a new collaboration between the Farmers’ of Wales (FUW), the Football Association of Wales (FAW) and the mental health farming charity the DPJ Foundation.

Helen Antoniazzi, the FAW’s head of public affairs, said there were 889 registered football clubs in Wales with 87,297 registered players. More than 30,000 of those players live in rural areas.

See also: How farmers can deal with mental health at times of pressure

Ms Antoniazzi said each team played an important role in bringing their community together.

“Farmers tend to get a lot of physical activity, but it’s slightly different when you are playing in a football team,” she said.

“Farming is a very isolating sector with lots of hours spent working alone. But playing football is an opportunity to come together and be part of a team environment.”

Ms Antoniazzi said she spent a lot of her time travelling around Wales and meeting people at different football clubs.

She has seen how playing football – or simply being connected with a local club, perhaps through making the food or helping out with admin – can help turn around the lives of people who were struggling with their mental health.  

At the Royal Welsh Show on Tuesday 25 July, all three partners will take part in a seminar, “Bridging the gap between young men in farming and football clubs across Wales”.

FUW senior county executive officer Emyr Wyn Davies said the collaboration aimed to bridge the gap between young men living in rural areas and those involved with agriculture and their local football clubs.

“While we have seen some progress over recent years in breaking down the stigma attached to poor mental health, much work remains to be done,” he added.

DPJ Foundation charity manager Kate Miles said: “We know that for many, football provides a chance to get off the farm and to engage with other people around a shared interest.”