Norfolk FA is pleased to be part of a new mental health champions scheme launched by The FA, to provide advice and support to grassroots match officials across the county.
The launch in Norfolk comes as the nation participates in Mental Health Awareness Week (10 – 16 May), with emphasis being placed on stepping up the fight for mental health.
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 Norfolk 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 volunteer Callum Parke from within the grassroots refereeing community will champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as points of contact for any match officials aged 18 or over experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.
19 County FAs now have a refereeing mental health champion in place and the intention is to expand the scheme nationally during 2021.
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 support of Norfolk CFA in driving the scheme forward and we look forward to working with other County FAs on this over the course of the year.”
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.”
Matt Carpenter, Football Services Manager at Norfolk FA said: “I am delighted that we have been able to join forces with The FA on their mental health champions scheme and I know that Callum will be a real asset in the support that we can provide for our Norfolk refereeing community over the coming seasons.”
Norfolk FA’s mental health champion is Callum Parke.
Callum has been an active referee for over seven years, currently operating as a Level 3 both in the East and the East Midlands.
He is currently a Masters student at Nottingham Trent University, studying News Journalism, having spent the previous four years at Loughborough University. Alongside refereeing, he enjoys exercise and keeping fit in general, as well as socialising with friends and watching live comedy.
Callum believes mental health is vitally important for our wellbeing off the pitch, and our performance on it. Refereeing can be hugely beneficial for our mental and physical health but can also, at times, be detrimental and be a cause of stress and pressure. He himself has experienced this, as all referees have at some point in their careers. He has found that self-reflection, honesty and talking are some of the best medicines for these issues, and his role is to help each individual referee understand what works for them and promote a positive approach to mental health.
If you have a mental health problem and would like to have a confidential conversation, then please first make contact with Callum at firstname.lastname@example.org