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Date published: 21 January 2013

Football-centred sessions helping men suffering from anxiety and depression in Rochdale Borough are producing winning results.

Funded by NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, ‘It’s A Goal’, is a free 11-week course at Rochdale FC which has helped more than 50 people in the past two years.

Bobby Greenwood, It’s A Goal Coach, explained: “We help local men struggling with low confidence, poor self-esteem, anxiety and depression get their lives back on track by using football. It engages those who struggle with traditional therapies and clinical settings - and it works!

“I’ve seen the positive impact first-hand - people returning to employment, education and training, overcoming addictions, engaging with others, making new friends, managing personal issues and becoming self-confident.”

‘It’s A Goal’ works with men on the course one afternoon a week during ‘season’ which features communication skills, stress management techniques, assertiveness, relaxation and self-development.

Shabnam Sardar, Public Health Manager at NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, said: “We’re really pleased the It’s A Goal! programme is offered to men in our borough. Many men are reluctant to talk about their feelings or to seek help when they need it and many feel that they're expected to cope with problems themselves. The programme is so important to reduce the stigma surrounding men’s mental health and to give men a way they can receive support.”

And Bobby Greenwood added: “Football is something most people have an opinion about. Football is great ice-breaker which then prompts more open discussions about wellbeing and individual issues. And being away from a formal, clinical atmosphere is particularly appealing to those we help.”

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