A GRASSROOTS football coach and window cleaner has helped launch youth mental health football hubs in Slough – a mental health boost for youngsters using the number one sport in the nation.

Football has been put on hold due to the coronavirus, but an organisation is not stopping with their plans to help both adults and children who suffer with mental health issues or are low in confidence.

Confidence building football sessions were held at grassroots clubs in Slough last year to help raise funds for a charity event. A football development officer and his assistants walked from Derbyshire to Iver over four days raising over £5,500 for mental health charity Sport In Mind.

What was discovered during the charity fundraiser was the number of children not engaged in football. The event has helped children go on play for grassroots clubs as well as grow in confidence.

Mr Mckenzie is a window cleaner in the area and said: “When we spoke with children during the event it was crazy how many told us they supported a football team but had never played in a team.

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“Speaking to parents it was clear that sadly a lot of the children simply had not been given the chance to take part. It was also clear that cost was another factor.

“With mental health an issue for some children, and having had my own battles, I realised that we could use coaches that are passionate about improving the mental health of children.

Slough Observer:

PHOTO: Mr. Mckenzie, left, and Steve Kennedy, right, who has made a difference to children through football for over 30 years.

“No child should ever feel like they are not good enough to play and no parent should have to say I cannot afford it.”

A team of coaches have met with Lab 50/50 which has devised an app used in schools to help troubled youths back in March. The app is scheduled to be used in football for the first time as the coaches work to help youngsters through the sport.

The app will see coaches reward children for developing several core skills needed in football such as teamwork and participation. They are 18 skills in total.

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The mental health football hubs will benefit children aged 5-13 and will form part of a charity event to raise funds for Sport in Monday. The project named Confidence Through Football is affiliated to the Berks & Bucks Football Association.

Mr McKenzie added: “All coaches will take a mental health for sports and physical activity course and we will work with both clubs and Leagues to put as many children into football as possible.”

There are plans to launch the hubs in Slough and Hayes plus talks have begun to set up in Iver and Chalfont or Denham as well.

The events will be a much-needed confidence boost to young children and reward them on a regular basis with four planned presentations per year – two certificated, one medal and certificated plus one certificated and with a trophy. There will also be a Star of the Week prize for five children after each training session.

Training sessions will be aimed at both children who do not currently participate in the sport but wish to build football-related skills and confidence as well as adults to improve fitness levels.

For more information please call 07506 174415.