Events/ Mental Health League 2005

By Ben Bartlett. Thursday, 20 October 2005.

The Berks & Bucks FA in partnership with The FA, National Institute for Mental Health England (NIMHE) and Reading FC 'Football in the Community' hosted a football festival at Reading FC for adults suffering from mental distress on Tuesday.

The festival was a culmination of work carried out with seven mental health partnership trusts across the Southern region and provided an opportunity for the teams from Pembroke & Flint, Bournemouth, Reading, Oxford, Swindon, Slough & Southend to compete in a structured competition.

Played in a fantastic spirit at the fantastic indoor training dome at Reading FC, the tournament kicked off with Resource Rangers FC (Reading) pipping Slough All-Stars 1-0 with the final kick of the game.

Under the watchful eye of experienced local referees Dick Sawdon-Smith and Tony Smith, Resource Rangers FC (Reading) were the eventual winners after Oxford Coasters, who remained unbeaten throughout the festival, and Swindon Rovers (including ex-professional player Steve Holmes) choked in their final games and failed to overhaul the long time local leaders.

Malcolm Barrett, Social Inclusion Head within the region for NIMHE was impressed by the impact of the festival: "The South East Development Centre and The Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) is proud to have been associated with this tournament and looks forward to working in partnership to encourage future involvement in the beautiful game. This is seen as a way of assisting people with mental health problems to engage in competitive sport"

It is expected that the festival will act as a catalyst for establishing a monthly league fixture programme with the central festival being held annually. The Berks & Bucks FA is committed to ensuring that their are long term outcomes associated with this scheme and Slough All-Stars are already working towards achieving the FA Charter Standard Award having received money from The Football Foundation's Small Grants Scheme to develop their football provision.

Selected by the referees and County FA staff, FA gifts were awarded to four players to recognise fair play. The winners were: Tristan Roberts - Pembroke & Flint Steve Holmes - Swindon Rovers Gemma Walton - Canford Cannons (Bournemouth) Kevin Cooper - Oxford Coasters

The festival ties into The FA's inclusion plans and Jeff Davis, National Disabilty Manager at The FA, who supported the day said: "The FA is committed to enabling everybody the opportunity to participate in our national sport and reach their potential. This work is at the forefront of The FA's drive to support mental health groups and service users to use football as a tool to engage socially excluded groups, this tournament is an excellent example of this ground breaking work"

For further information about the day and Berks & Bucks FA's development plan, please contact Ben Bartlett on 07917 526707 or at ben.bartlett@berks-bucksfa.com