Blog Talk – ‘On the bench?’ – Football, Men, and Mental Health

From: Football Pink

// My father in law, Sidney Williams, played amateur football to a good standard. He played in the Berlin Olympic Stadium in 1946-8 for the British army and was offered an opportunity to play professionally in the 1950s for Brentford but, as he was earning more elsewhere, he declined. Sidney was obsessed by football all his life. Even after retiring from playing at 38, he attended many England matches including the World Cup final in 1966.

It was clear that once he moved away from Wembley and stopped going to live matches, there was a huge hole in his life, which left him with a sadness which felt to me like unresolved grief. It was clear to anyone involved with him how much he missed the beautiful game but, like many men of his generation, he would dismiss any attempt to engage him in discussing this.

Sid is not alone; football is hugely important for many men. Gary Lineker tweeted after England’s dramatic World Cup penalty shoot-out win over Colombia, “Football. There is nothing like it. Nothing.” While the benefits of playing football – the sheer joy of it, the physicality and exercise – are clear. I like to think about its role in male mental health. This was never discussed in Sid’s era, but today there is ever-increasing interest.

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