The Power of Football

Football brings people together. Men, especially, need it as a form of release. For men who have a mental health illness, football can be a much needed distraction from their dark thoughts and worries. It can lift spirits, especially when your team wins.

Even in the case of dementia, patients are encouraged to watch re-runs of their favourite historic football games. This can trigger memories and evokes emotions, not just about that particular game, but other personal activities that occurred in that particular time of their lives.

During the coronavirus crisis in 2020 and now in 2021, the national lockdown restrictions means we all have to minimise time spent outside our homes. It’s against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they’re part of your household or support bubble. Many people have taken to watching boxsets and films to pass the time and football is no exception. Many men need need as much televised sport as can happen safely.

‘Positive stress’, is a positive health benefit, it’s similar to a moderate cardiovascular workout. If your team is successful, watching your team win also results in the lowering of blood pressure. It improves your mood, psychologically for at least 24 hours. On the flip side a loss resulted in an extended period of low mood and depression.

As the founder of ‘For Men To Talk’ I love football. I love the togetherness that the sport brings. I visit Kenya every year on a humanitarian trip.

In 2016, it was was Independence Day in Kenya. As a sign of the growth of Nakuru and for the first time in their 53 year history, the celebration ceremony hosted by the President was held at the local football ground, which was a few hundred yards down the road from resort, where myself and our group were staying.

Unfortunately security insisted that due to safety, we would remain in our resort all day instead of visiting the school that we were building. Although devastated, we fully understood and respected their decision. At the back of the resort was a field and we took a ball out for a kick-about. At 6.30pm we were due back to the resort for our dinner.

However as we packing away to finish, a tribe of Masai Warriors interrupted us. Yes MASAI WARRIORS, in full headgear, outfit, jewelry and spears. We thought that they needed the land for practicing for further celebrations of Independence Day. We were wrong! They wanted to play a match! 

They stripped off their full attire and they were ready! We played a 30 minute match, winning 4-2, but the score didn’t matter, the Masai Warriors were amazing. It was an amazing experience that I will NEVER EVER forget. It was very emotional. Before we both left, the Warriors performed their tribal dance and we joined in with them.

Although I am biased, because I love the sport, football is a universal game that brings people together both watching, especially during this coronavirus pandemic, and playing. The Masai Warriors couldn’t speak a word of English and we couldn’t speak their tribe language, but football was the communication.