Football therapy group out to reclaim title

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Liverpool Football Therapy members having a kick-about. Pic © Daniel Williams JMU Journalism

A football therapy group hopes to reclaim their title as champions of an international mental health tournament.

Liverpool Football Therapy is a project set up to help adults suffering from mental health issues.

The group was inspired by a similar scheme run by Everton in the Community called Imagine Your Goals, which was set up in 2008.

Group founder, Colin Dolan, who was a volunteer for Imagine Your Goals, explains why he decided to start the new project.

He told JMU Journalism: “The programme at Everton is specifically for Mersey Care service users so it really reaches out to people unemployed and it’s in the day time.

“I wanted to expand upon that and create my own one that would attract people going to work but still in need of some mental health support.

“[The scheme] totally transformed my life, so much so I would go as far as saying it saved my life. The programme means so much to me that I got a tattoo on my arm.

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“I’m a Liverpool fan with an Everton tattoo – which is an odd one.”

The team meets weekly for sessions and plays regularly in a five-a-side North West league against other mental health support teams, and in May 2019 travelled to Italy to compete on the international stage.

Eight men were sent to the Italian La Testa Nel Pallone six-a-side tournament and won the final 4-3, after going down 1-0.

The opportunity for the tournament arose after Mr Dolan collaborated with Greater Manchester Mayor, then MP, Andy Burnham, to deliver a talk at Parliament about the mental health football scene.

A group in Italy heard of the talk and invited Mr Dolan to bring over a team and compete in a tournament.

The Scotsman relishes the opportunity to return overseas and reclaim the trophy.

He added: “[It would be amazing] to get there. If we raise that money and get there it is an opportunity for another eight guys to represent Liverpool Football Therapy, but also, they are representing their families and the city as well.

“It’s a huge thing for them because some of them have never had an opportunity in their lives to play football abroad, and they may never again.

“Personally speaking I want to go there and win it again. I’ve had a taste of glory and I liked it.”

About Daniel Williams, JMU Journalism