It’s ‘More than a Game’ as Fulham FC Foundation champions mental wellbeing

Fulham FC Foundation has recently welcomed two new Mental Wellbeing Practitioners to its staff to champion mental health and wellbeing to its programmes and participants.

Kat Moran and Athina Papailiou will provide expert subject knowledge and real-world experience in delivering mental health and wellbeing-targeted education to a broad range of individuals within the wider Fulham FC community.

Their remit will include upskilling delivery staff across the Foundation to promote mental health awareness and mental wellbeing skill development, as well as directly supporting in specific mental health football delivery.

As part of More Than A Game, Fulham FC Foundation has recently launched new mental health football sessions, aimed at providing positive physical activity for those looking to support their mental health.

Kat Moran studied integrative counselling and advocates “the healing qualities of counselling, communication, mental health and wellbeing practices”. She has lived and worked in South West London all her life and attended Fulham FC Foundation after-school clubs as a child.

She said: “I actually think football is a great way to understand yourself, because you are putting yourself in a situation, you are physically engaging and communicating with other people, pushing yourself. Football is a great metaphor for how we engage with our mental health and our wellbeing; it has a lot of qualities that are transferable.

In terms of working in football where we have a platform, I think there is a responsibility to normalise and to reduce stigma.”

Athina Papailiou, a track and field athlete and coach, got into sports psychology after carrying out voluntary work at high school.

She said: “I think it is really important to raise awareness and take benefits from sport to improve our mental health as well as learning lessons from sport, because you can learn many important mental skills from sport and physical activity such as confidence and resilience and things like that. I feel it’s really important to reduce stigma around mental health generally, but especially around asking for help. People feel afraid to ask for help because this would mean they are weak, but it’s actually the opposite. I feel when you say to yourself, ‘actually I need help’, that is really powerful, it’s a strong thing to do.”