Keen cricketer, Sefton Park CC member and CALM supporter, Mark Boyns, tells us about the creation of a new cricket focused mental wellbeing initiative following the loss of his team mate, Alex Miller.
For all cricket players and fans, the end of September means no more Saturdays chasing a ball of leather and cork, no more chances to drop catches and a whole expanse of time opening up before us, previously filled up with bowling, batting and fielding. The end of the season was particularly poignant for myself and others involved in activities to celebrate the memory of our friend Alex. A lot of energy had been expended, matched by goodwill from other local clubs and even complete strangers. Some thoughts about how to continue what we’d started were shared, slowly developing into the position we are now in.
Prior to our memorial game for Alex in June last year, we received a presentation from State of Mind, a group focused on improving mental health wellbeing in rugby league. Their session, delivered with professionalism and humour, really set the tone for what was an inspiring and reflective day. Something in what they did got us thinking, but faded somewhat in the months that passed.
With the cricket season closed there seemed more time for deliberation on how to continue supporting CALM and remembering the commitment and love for the sport that Alex possessed. Consultation with other clubs reminded us of how lacking the sport is in providing mental support for players. State of Mind stood out for us as a positive model to replicate.
So, more ideas and aims were thrown around. The desire to reach cricketers, to break down obstacles to supporting them if things aren’t quite going right and, ultimately, to prevent anyone else reaching the tragic end that Alex did, emerged as a motivation to do something. That something being a cricket specific project to promote mental wellbeing and suicide prevention. To use the benefits of such a wonderful sport to support those who play it and to equip young men with an alternative to the damaging maxim of being strong and silent.
Opening Up, a title that hopefully works on a few levels, is now up and running. We aim to visit as many clubs as possible across Merseyside and surrounding area providing sessions on wellbeing and suicide prevention. The context is cricket but the message is universal. Being silent isn’t being strong. Save the male.
You can follow Opening up on Twitter for news and info: @openingupCC