Mental health champions scheme launched for grassroots referees in Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire FA is pleased to be part of a new mental health champions scheme launched by The Football Association [The FA], to provide advice and support to grassroots match officials across the County.
The transformative scheme, believed to be the first of its kind for grassroots match officials in any sport, aims to create an open environment so that everyone involved in the refereeing community in Cambridgeshire can talk openly about mental health and be supported.
As a founding signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and the Heads Up Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, The FA has worked closely with Mind to co-design the mental health champion role to help tackle the stigma of mental health within refereeing.
As part of the scheme, our volunteers Jake Dods and Ceredig Cattanach-Chell from within the grassroots refereeing community will champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as a point of contact for any match official aged 18 or over experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.
Richard Glynne-Jones, FA National Referee Manager said: "The mental health and wellbeing of people is more important now than ever, and The FA is committed to putting important steps in place to support our grassroots match officials. This scheme will help create a culture that promotes positive mental health amongst our refereeing community, encouraging honest and open conversations and breaking down the historic stigmas to inspire positive change. We are grateful for the support of Cambridgeshire CFA in driving the scheme forward”.
Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said: “Mental health is gaining increasing visibility in football, which is hugely encouraging. But while the mental health of fans and players is now being talked about more than ever, it’s vital that we address the wellbeing of everyone involved in the game, not least referees, who face a unique set of challenges that could affect their mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with The FA, and our training partner Washington Mind, on this ground-breaking scheme to support the mental health of grassroots match officials across the country.”
Sam Anderson, Referee Development Officer, said: “The introduction of Mental Health Champions in Cambridgeshire is a brilliant step forward, offering an extra level of support to our match officials. To have two individuals who are committed to the wellbeing of colleagues around the County will ensure that the match officials are supported even greater in this area by trained colleagues.
I would encourage any referee that require support to pick up the phone to either individual, It’s really important that we all pick up the phone and speak to somebody if we are struggling. There is nothing to be worried about and any contact that you make will be kept in strict confidence; sometimes, the biggest step you can take is getting a worry or concern off your chest! Even if you don’t feel like you can speak to one of our mental health champions initially, my phone is always switched on to take a call.”
Cambridgeshire CFA’s mental health champions are Jake Dods and Ceredig Cattanach-Chell.
Jake is an active level 4 referee. He qualified as a referee in 2014 and committed to officiating rather than playing after finishing sixth form in 2017. His hobbies include pretty much any sport under the sun, as much as he is not great at most of them (Jake’s words!) and music.
Jake is currently studying psychology at Coventry University, with the primary focus being the Psychology of Sport & Exercise. He has completed modules in mental health, well-being and counselling and has a passion for creating an environment in which everyone involved in football can speak out without judgement.
Ceredig started ‘life’ as a secondary school teacher and took up refereeing in Feb 2020 after moving to Cambridge for work. He currently referees at L5/4W. For Ceredig, refereeing was a chance to continue his involvement in football when his Sunday League team stopped, as well as a chance to teach an old dog new tricks!
During his life, Ceredig has experienced mental health challenges quite regularly. He has experienced self-doubt and challenging games. Ceredig is looking forward to supporting other referees in speaking openly about the challenges they face. Together he believes we can build a positive community where people can share feelings and be signposted to support. As referees, we need a healthy mind to do our jobs effectively.
If you would like to have a confidential conversation about mental health, then please first make contact with Jake or Ceredig at CambsMHC@gmail.com
Jake Dods (left) and Ceredig Cattanach-Chell (right).