Whether you’re #WengerIn, #WengerOut or entirely indifferent like the rest of us, one thing we can all agree on is the power of football. So here’s Giancarlo Gaglione to talk us through the Lan the Baron World Cup, now in its sixth year, ahead of July’s kick off date.
All my life I have been mad about football, from captaining a Sunday League team in Edmonton to driving around the country to watch my beloved Liverpool play; football has always been an obsession of mine. Football is thought of as the archetypal male sport, it’s about strength, brawn, courage and pride. It’s about trusting your mates and giving your all for the greater good. It’s the arena where you try to win at any cost.
But why is there no place for mental weakness, for depression, for anxiety? I guess it could be because any sign of weakness physical or mental on a football pitch can be exploited by your rivals. I remember my coach telling me, ‘If you see a player with their knee strapped… hit it! It’s like a matador waving a red flag’. Depression however is complex and can’t be seen.
The challenge with young men today is that they are very good at hiding it. I should know, my youngest brother Lanfranco Gaglione (Lan the Baron), took his own life at the age of 26, keeping his depression and his inner demons to himself.
Since that day, my family and Lan’s friends have been on a mission to spread awareness and to get men talking. It’s this that has led to us creating the Lan the Baron World Cup, a tournament bringing men together to play the football that they love, to talk about mental health and to make them aware that suicide is the single biggest killer of their age group.
Lan the Barn World Cup 2017
It’s been five years since we started on this journey, and over that time we’ve attracted over 1,000 footballers, raising over £10,000 and have tried to make each one better than the last.
Being supported by Arsenal in the Community last year, and holding it next door to the Emirates took the event to a whole new level. This year is set to be even better as the tournament returns to the Arsenal Hub on Sunday 16th July 2017.
It’s a day of football made up of two tournaments; the first a 5-a-side World Cup with teams choosing a nation to represent, and over 50 games played to determine the winner in typical World Cup style.
The second, new for this year, is called the World XI Series, the best 44 players on the day, will be chosen to represent the four continents Africa, Americas, Asia & Oceania and Europe in a mini-tournament in three full pitch 11-a-side matches.
Aside from the football, there’ll also be Xbox consoles, football tables, a kids zone, great food and music. All this for only £20 per player or £5 for spectators, with all proceeds going to CALM.
It is my hope that the Lan the Baron World Cup continues for many years to come, until men begin to face up to the epidemic that is taking 12 lives every single day and until men accept that being silent isn’t being strong.
For full details and to sign up your team, visit www.LanTheBaron.co.uk
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.