Health and Wellbeing

“On your head son!” Male Engagement Football Tournament

Will Brown, Psychology Student and Intern at Counselling, Health & Wellbeing tells us more about the projects he’s involved in to help remove the stigma associated with male mental health …


It is safe to say that I have now well and truly settled into my Psychology Placement. The first few weeks of my placement with the Cardiff University Student Support Service have involved engaging in many projects. One project that stands out for me is the promotion of male engagement within mental health services. The Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team aim to reach a significant increase in male clients this year and help remove the stigma associated with male mental issues. This led to Counselling, Health and Wellbeing teaming up with Student Minds Cardiff to host a 5-a-side football tournament in order to promote awareness of male mental health.


As a male myself, I know from direct experience that if you are struggling to cope with everyday life or overwhelming emotions, you are immediately slapped in the face with statements such as ‘man up’ or ‘chin up mate’ in order for you to constantly maintain the required masculine ‘stiff upper lip’. Statements such as these are usually exerted from your friends or family in an honest attempt to provide help and guidance. In some cases, this simple wake up call or kick up the backside is enough for you to get back on track. However, in several cases for many individuals – this is not enough.


Many males feel that they have to bottle up their emotions and feelings as this is the ‘manly’ thing to do. Yet, it has of course been scientifically proven that not releasing these emotions leads to an internal build-up which can eventually lead to mental health issues. It must be emphasised that mental health issues occur in both men and woman and that will never be disregarded, however the statistics for male mental health are particularly concerning. It is as simple as this – three out of four UK suicides are male (extracted from a recent UK report commissioned by the Movember male health charity). This statistic highlights the gaping gender difference in dealing with personal mental health problems and accessing mental health services.


The idea for organising a football tournament for promoting male engagement arose in Freshers’ Week when I spoke to Kieran Patel from Student Minds. From the beginning of October we began intensively working towards gathering teams and prizes. The tournament was arranged to go ahead on November the 1st   in Talybont Sports Hall. Social media advertising began on 27th October, which triggered a staggering response from Cardiff University students. A mere 24 hours after the first Facebook post, we had gathered the required 8 teams for the tournament. This left us with ten days to arrange prizes for the tournament winners. Considering the limited time at our disposal, the prizes were impressive:


  • Two tickets to see Cardiff City F.C vs Derby County – January 25th – Awarded to the Final Man of the Match.
  • 10 free drinks and side orders at Talybont Social Bar immediately after the tournament

–        Also provided with Loyalty discount on drinks for ALL players.

  • 8 food and drink vouchers from Varsity on Richmond Road including:

–       2 x Bucks Fizz Treasure Chests

–       2 x Bottles of Bubbly

–       2 x Large Pizzas

–       2x 25% off total food and drink bill vouchers


It must also be mentioned that not a single penny was spent towards gathering these prizes! A special thank you naturally goes to Talybont Sports Hall, Cardiff City Football Club, Talybont Social Bar and Varsity for their massive generosity and support for such a great cause.

Despite two teams having to unfortunately drop out from the tournament a few days beforehand, the event itself could not have gone any smoother. There was great quality football shown from every team and individual player as well as there being a fantastic atmosphere from all that attended. Talybont deserve massive credit for providing their sports facilities for a generous four hours of the day.


However, there could only be one winner and the Japanese Society certainly deserved that. Commiserations go to Eurex who put up a good fight in the final but were defeated 6-4 by the ruthless Japanese Society. The Japanese Society proved to have the perfect balance for a 5-a-side football team. This was shown from the steel of the goalkeeper and defence, right through to the flair and emphatic finishing of chances shown in attack.


A special mention goes to the final’s man of the match– Kazuto Mifune, who was recognised by all as the stand out player of the day and deservedly won the two Cardiff City F.C tickets.



The positive atmosphere of the tournament was certainly summed up when all four teams who made the semi-finals attended Talybont Social for food and drinks afterwards, despite their disappointment in defeat. All in all, it was a hugely successful day for Counselling, Health and Wellbeing and Student Minds as well as the promotion of male mental health. I hope that events like these will be arranged again in the future and the stigma surrounding male attendance of mental health services will be a thing of the past.


Best wishes

Will Brown
Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Team

For more information, support and advice from Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, drop in at 50 Park Place or find us online.












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