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In need of a safe area: How Bengaluru FC aims to care about mental health

“The sport itself is a very result-oriented profession, so when you lose… it definitely puts you under immense pressure,” stated a pensive Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

The 28-year-old has been the frontline goalkeeper of the nation for a little lower than a decade now and was pivotal in India’s historic draw in opposition to Asian champions Qatar within the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in September 2019. In the Indian Super League (ISL), he has lately received two consecutive Golden Glove awards amongst many different accolades, which clearly exemplifies the extent of his success.

Despite all of the gold and the glitter of his profession, the Chandigarh-born has had previous situations of not having the ability to see himself within the mirror for days and crying alone after receiving verbal volleys from the gang. Because of such situations, Sandhu usually speaks up to elevate consciousness on the problem of mental health, particularly within the sport of soccer the place a sure stigma relating to mental power guidelines giant.

Supporting him, his membership Bengaluru FC has made ahead strides by lately hiring a mental health practitioner. In line with the “Care Around the Corner” initiative, which was launched on World Mental Health Day in October final 12 months, the therapist aims to liberate the weighed-down minds of gamers in any approach attainable.

Shedding some gentle on their marketing campaign, Bengaluru FC media supervisor Kunaal Majgaonkar informed indianexpress.com, “If I were to get into specifics of how the thought of the programme came about, it was after I put down the book ‘A Life Too Short’ — the biography of German goalkeeper Robert Enke who took his life after battling depression and mental health issues for six years.”

After consulting with membership CEO Mandar Tamhane, Majgaonkar set the wheels in movement for a well-researched programme that may develop season after season. As step one of the method, Bengaluru FC employed Anjana Kothamachu, initially an expressive arts therapist, because the membership’s mental health knowledgeable final 12 months.

The 2018/19 ISL successful membership aims to maintain a number of group periods in a bid to hold “making the players comfortable with the subject of mental health”. The gamers and workers can attain out straight to the knowledgeable for private session periods.

On the worldwide stage, mental health has a quantity of skilled footballers, starting from former England icon Paul Gascoigne to legendary Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. More lately, gamers like Aaron Lennon, Bojan Krkic, and Jordon Ibe have opened up about battling sport-related stress.

Considering the taboo surrounding the problem, the Blues’ efforts to spearhead a marketing campaign to change the tradition in soccer is certainly praise-worthy.

In need of a safe area: How Bengaluru FC aims to care about mental health Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is the primary Indian to play within the UEFA Europa League. (Twitter/@bengalurufc)

The 2019/20 AIFF Player of the Year believes that the fixed strain of churning out outcomes for the crew usually adversely impacts the gamers on a mental degree.

“It especially affects a team like us,” stated Gurpreet. “Since we are so used to winning and doing well every season… if things don’t go our way, we don’t necessarily know how to react properly. To be able to bounce back from back-to-back defeats is something that requires a lot of positivity and productive feedback.”

“As for the hate messages on social media, personally, I have stopped paying attention to it because it’s no good for my mental health. I am not interested in what people’s opinions are about what I have to do on the pitch. The only opinion that matters is that of the coaching staff and the professionals at the club.”

Ever since its begin in November final 12 months, the Indian Super League 2020/21 season has been going down inside a bio-secure bubble throughout three venues in Goa. So, is the interval away from acquainted smiles and identified faces a factor to fear about?

“Being in a bio-bubble is an experience that is very much removed from anything in pre-COVID life… and the impact will surely vary. But some challenges are stress, anxiety, boredom; being stuck inside sometimes leads to feelings of isolation, and this along with being cut off from social contact can trigger emotional issues or bring back unresolved emotional challenges from past experiences,” stated Bengaluru FC’s Mental Health Practitioner Anjana Kothamachu.

READ | ‘Losing Rs 25 crore a season difficult to sustain’: BFC to ISL founder

Adding solidity to the programme is the data share supplied by membership companions Rangers FC on the topic, who’ve their very own initiative referred to as “Care Team”.

“Rangers have been lending us expertise and our mental health expert has been in touch with their staff to see how best we can grow this programme. They will soon be conducting a session with the squad over a video call,” stated Majgaonkar.

“Bengaluru FC is completely committed to growing this programme over the next few months and CATC will most definitely be a permanent fixture. We soon intend to introduce this to our age-group teams too. We’re in for the long haul,” he added.

Even whether it is a small step, Bengaluru FC’s initiative is already a big leap in the correct course to elevate consciousness about mental health points in sport in India. Hopefully, different groups and franchises throughout all sports activities can even present assist to those that desperately need it throughout a time that places the phrase “testing” to the check.

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