Launched in February 2013, the project of Opening Up cricket has come as a result of the tragic passing of Sefton Park’s Alex Miller in late 2012. Now, in 2015, this cricket focused group has continued publicising the work of CALM in the setting that Alex was most happy. Throughout pre season and now into the summer, we are delivering ‘mind and body’ sessions, that are cricket focused whilst making links between physical and mental fitness alongside the importance of communication.
We are always keen to talk about other potential projects and support where requested. To book a session or for more information visit our website www.openingupcricket.com
Sadly the cricket season is over. No more looking out of the window and willing the rain to stay away (or to arrive, dependent on the game situation) and no more of the joy and agony until next April. This year has been brilliant for Opening Up. The project has reached further than ever before and more players have come into contact with approaches to mental wellbeing and suicide prevention. The kind of things discussed in our ‘mind and body’ sessions are overlooked, willingly or otherwise, so it is really gratifying to witness the themes being shared more and more.
The winter will be full of evaluation and plans for 2016 as well as a few events to keep awareness within the sport. In January we break new ground by delivering sessions in Yorkshire and prior to that we meet with our steering group to look at how best to maximise the potential of reaching more and more men through cricket.
CALM posters and flyers have reached hundreds and we aim to have banners permanently based at as many of the supporting clubs as possible when the sun begins to shine and another term begins next April.
Our mind and body sessions have continued right in to the season and at last count we have delivered to, or are about to, 23 clubs in the North West. Many bookings have been on the back of a visit to one club who has recommended the concept to another. This is vindication that people are willing to listen and engage. Now, more and more players are seeing the clear link between mental wellbeing and cricket. The aspects of ‘opening up’ are good for men in general and for cricket specifically.
The support of the Lancashire Cricket Board has been great and we are building towards a couple of projects with them to expand the scope of what is being done. Overall though, we are still focusing on the same message as we did at the very start. With that in mind we’ve put together a mini campaign called ‘It’s not weak to speak’ to continue pushing the idea that CALM promote around getting men talking. We end every session with signposting to CALM- the website, magazine and phone line- to show that communication is so important and there is always someone there to listen.
The mind and body sessions are now in full swing as we aim to get out to as many clubs as possible in the North West to promote mental wellbeing and suicide prevention. It has been great to meet with lots of different players to chat about the links between physical and mental health as well as giving some bits of information that may have been unknown before. At each session we have ended up signposting to CALM and we are hoping to see the ‘Man Down’ posters up at clubs across the region.
Getting out there and making mental health part of regular conversations is so important and it has been uplifting to see players embrace the themes and consider them for the future.
Looking forward to seeing many more clubs in the coming weeks and months!
We are now well under way taking bookings for our ‘mind and body’ sessions with cricket clubs for early 2015. This project offers cricketers the chance to undergo groundbreaking fitness sessions aimed not just at their muscles but their minds. We will begin putting cricketers through their paces in January and continue until April, when competitive cricket in the region restarts. These sessions are the first of their kind in the country. Delivered free of charge, they offer cricket-focused aerobic workouts led by fitness experts. There will be an added emphasis on mental wellbeing with practical exercises and discussion aimed at encouraging players to identify potential issues and open up without stigma. These innovative sessions follow on from our work with L&DCC clubs in the 2014 season through which the themes of mental wellbeing and suicide prevention were promoted to clubs.
As well as cricket clubs we are happy to offer the sessions to other groups in the region so please do get in touch to discuss! email@example.com
We also have our own website at www.openingupcricket.com which contains further information on the project.
We were delighted to be involved with a conference at Edge Hill University where the themes of sport and mental health were discussed by a range of speakers. Alongside Andy Burnham MP there were contributions from a series of academics, those in sport and others with inspiring stories to tell such as comedian Jake Mills.
To be in a setting where such a wide variety of interests were represented was incredibly educating in confirming how mental health wellbeing is important for all. It was also motivating to see that Opening Up forms part of an extended group in the North West that seek to promote the role of mental health in sport.
Everton in the community, who have provided invaluable support to us in developing our project, have more details on the day HERE
The CALM sixes tournament seems a long, long time ago now. With the season just about finished it takes some imagination to consider a Sunday with beautiful sunshine and two cricket pitches swarming with players from across Merseyside and beyond. The day itself was a perfect tribute to Alex with some high quality cricket mixed with a special atmosphere, everyone felt together and happy to support CALM.
Before the games began there was a talk from ourselves to set the scene. As much as the day was about who would lift the trophy it was equally about the message of wellbeing and suicide prevention. Many in the audience had been present in Opening Up sessions before and they sat alongside those with less knowledge of this area. With each talk delivered it is feeling for us more and more natural to have the concept of mental health awareness at the centre of sport. There are few other areas in modern life where men get to spend an extended amount of time with their mates in a context which naturally encourages support for each other.
As we move into the autumn developments have been made to pursue some other areas for the project. On Thursday 9th October we are supporting a mental health in sport conference at Edge Hill University to further increase the range of different sporting bodies and associated people reflecting upon mental health issues. This will be a fine opportunity to extend our exposure but also learn from those who have had success reaching men in need of support.
Into the winter we’ll be continuining to develop our link with Edge Hill University, striving to co-ordinate research into the effect of our involvement in cricket, to hopefully alert national organisations as to the need for further focus on this often neglected area. We’ll also be carrying on the core of our work, that of visiting clubs and having conversations about the ideas of ‘being silent isn’t being strong’ and opening up. Feedback we receive always attests to there being a need to reconsider how men are expected to act, that bottling things up just doesn’t work.
The message we’ll continue to push is the one that remains as relevant as day one. Support your mates, talk and help each other through problems. It could be a conversation, a release of all kinds of worry and anxiety that makes the ultimate difference to someone. Just the same as on-going support, through being there and understanding, can be so beneficial for a mate who has depression or is experiencing a particularly low point. Simple ideas, surely so simple everyone can take them and do what we can to save the male.
It’s hard to work out whether it seems like only yesterday or many years ago from the memorial game for Alex that took place in June 2013. So much has gone on since then with the formation of Opening Up and others things beside that makes that day appear to belong to a different time. However in the preparation for this years event it has become clear that what we are doing is still inspired by exactly the same motivation as 12 months ago. The passing of time has made it easier to see the club differently, new faces and experiences, but it has done little to distract from the sadness that Alex isn’t with us. Even in organising a tournament in his honour I catch myself thinking “Al would be up for that” and then realise it’s his memory we are honouring.
After the success of the 11-a-side game last time round we have decided to go for a 6-a-side format now. The idea is to have more clubs represented, more players involved in what will hopefully be a replication of the special atmosphere that enveloped the ground on a day of mixed weather.
Prior to the games Opening Up will address the players just as State of Mind did at the original game. As the project plans to develop further in the coming winter and into next year it is wholly appropriate to return to the source and keep all aware of the message – being silent isn’t being strong.
8 teams will compete in the CALM sixes on June 29th with the winners being awarded the Alex Miller Cup. Throughout the day funds will be raised for CALM through a bbq, raffle, t-shirt sale and various other things. People can come for the whole tournament or just pop in for an hour to catch up with friends. The day is many things- a feast of cricket, a chance for a drink in the sun, an opportunity to learn about Opening Up – but all the way through it is a nod to Alex and a firm reminder of the need to get men talking more.
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