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CALM Football Collective: Meet AFC Oldsmiths

Football has a big role to play in the way we deal with issues including mental health and suicide. Being there for your mates when things get tough – whether you’re playing or supporting, winning or losing – creates strong bonds that can genuinely save lives.

That’s where the CALM Football Collective comes in…

The CALM Football Collective brings together people who love the beautiful game, both playing it and watching it. It’s about positivity, generosity and reinforcement on and off the pitch. It’s for the fans. It’s for the players. It’s for football communities across the UK.

Here’s Luis Mackness from AFC Oldsmiths to explain why his team are supporting CALM…

Give us a brief background on AFC Oldsmiths…

Oldsmiths was set up in August ’09. A few of us went to Goldsmiths Uni and wanted to keep playing football after we graduated. Truth be told, we rushed into setting the club up and entered pretty much the only league that would take us to start that September. We had all sorts of problems. We then moved in to the SAL with a second team in and things have really kicked on since. Most of the current lads didn’t go to the uni and our teams are made up of lads from all over the country. We train in Catford, the home ground is in Sidcup and everyone is sound.

“I’ve always felt that if you can make one lad less frustrated through playing football, brilliant. Fact is, this has the scope to lift thousands of football fans and those close to them.”

Tell us about your role at AFC Oldsmiths…

I started the club with a lad called Ollie. I’ve been a very average striker, a shocking club sec, a constant cheerleader and now Chairman. Which goes to show that if you stick to your dreams, and nobody else wants the job, you too can achieve them. Since taking charge I’ve been able to represent a special and diverse group of lads and I wanted us to represent a good side to football. We wanted to work with specific charities and have them use us to carry their messages.

“We train in Catford, the home ground is in Sidcup and everyone is sound.”

What made you want to join the CALM Football Collective?

Since we discussed the idea with CALM, pro football clubs have made massive strides in raising awareness and, in some cases, actively establishing projects to support the mental health of players and communities. Amateur football was always the starting point for us, with an equal focus on the existing grassroots setups across the country, as well as the fast growing inner-city small sided football. Men’s 11 a-side at grassroots level is in rapid decline – it can be difficult to organise players and facilities while keeping people hungry – so if there’s an extra element whereby clubs can support the wellbeing of players, fans and communities, maybe we can keep these players engaged and hopefully bring in new lads that want a bit more than to just play football.

“The association with CALM allows our club to say outwardly that we recognise the battles people go through everyday and that we are willing to embrace conversations, help where we can, and make a difference going forward together.”

How do you think you and the team will benefit from being a CALM club?

I’ve already benefited massively since the inception of the idea. I wanted our club to be associated with the charity and it’s led to me volunteering and in turn working part time at CALM. As for the club, essentially the association with CALM allows our club to say outwardly that we recognise the battles people go through everyday and that we are willing to embrace conversations, help where we can, and make a difference going forward together. I’ve always felt that if you can make one lad less frustrated through playing football, brilliant. Fact is, this has the scope to lift thousands of football fans and those close to them.

Into your football? Play for a team and want to make them a CALM club? Join the CALM Football Collective here.

Get support

Need support? Worried about someone? CALM’s free, anonymous and confidential helpline and webchat are open every day, 5pm-midnight. Get access here. 

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.

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