If you had asked me this time last year, what is the future of FC Not Alone? I’d have probably squirmed and said I’m not sure it has a future. Truth be told, it wasn’t really until November 2020 Matthew and I reignited our passion for the project.
So what’s changed? Rewind back to March 2020 where I had just started a new job aside from FC Not Alone. I had just come back from possibly one of the last European matches to have a full house of fans as I witnessed my beloved Spurs emphatically crash out of the Champions League Round of 16 stage, a 4-0 aggregate score at the hands of RB Leipzig.
To be honest, it wasn’t actually until I was in a hotel room in Leipzig that I understood the magnitude of the situation. Let’s just say the German media were reporting the soon-to-be pandemic with a lot more panic than the U.K. media was.
I turned up to the office the next day and as the Covid-19 cases were rising in the U.K., the office paranoia began to set in for everyone. Within minutes of being in the office, I had felt very uncomfortable for myself and my colleagues as the risk of contracting Covid was very high with me being exposed to many thousands of football fans for the last two days. It was discussed that it was probably best that I went to work at home for the next few days. 12 months later, I’m still working at home and I have not seen any of my colleagues since.
Between the months of March 2020 & November 2020, I had felt uncomfortable at the thought of continuing to create noise around mental health through the FC Not Alone platform. I’m not completely sure why but as every person, brand, company, immediately tried to pivot to exist and have an offering online, it all got a bit noisy.
‘These are unprecedented times’ became the catchphrase, and those four words started to chip away at me.
It became evident for all to see that these were indeed unprecedented times, and we don’t need to keep banging on about it. We get it. During the same time, I tried starting another personal creative project, a podcast called ‘The Dog Days’, which essentially was a mental health podcast where we would interview creatives, entrepreneurs and anyone who on the surface seem successful, to understand their dog days or days of uncertainty that they had gone through to get where they are now.
We tried to adopt the Zoom trend and consistently ran our podcasts through it, but we hated it. We hated speaking about ‘The Dog Days’ when let’s be honest, nothing is going to be as bad as being locked away in our houses without access to a physical connection – to our friends and loved ones for the foreseeable future, is it? These are ‘The Dog Days’, now.
The joy of FC Not Alone for me was bringing people together in the real world through the sport I love, football. Using the sport to have bigger conversations around life. In our case, mental health. Now some would argue there is no better time to speak about the importance of looking after one’s mental health than during a pandemic. I agree. However, I didn’t want FC Not Alone to be a rolling Twitter feed telling people to check in on our mental health. In fact, if there’s one thing the pandemic has done, is make us more self-aware and understanding of what our body and mind needs to keep us enjoying our lives.
I couldn’t see a short term future for FC Not Alone as I wasn’t willing to promote our project whilst I felt we had no solution to the problem. Since 2018 we have been successful along with other people who work hard in this field to bring the mental health crisis to light. Now it is time for solutions.
In November 2020, we had an exciting conversation with our friends at adidas. We were introduced to the adidas Football Collective (https://news.adidas.com/football/announcing-the-adidas-football-collective-with-the-ambition-to-help-drive-positive-change-in-and-thr/s/87517b14-545d-48d3-ab87-e4a5f115af2c) and asked to be a partner for the project.
Being a partner of the adidas Football Collective means that we now have an agreement in place to work together to drive social change through the power of football. Initially, starting in the city of London, we will now be running weekly football-for-all coaching sessions for all skill levels to attend. The purpose of our sessions is to provide free FA qualified coaching to enable everyone to fall in love with or sustain their love of the game.
We aim to try and build relationships, fitness, and enjoyment of the game which in turn, can only hopefully have a positive impact on our session’s participant’s mental health. More information on our football-for-all sessions will be available soon; we hope to kick these off in London in May 2021.
In addition to building our offering in the real world, we have also been plotting behind the scenes to see what we can do to make more of an impact online. We are proud to launch our new website which you are reading this article on. It is our plan to release daily content through our website where we will be hoping to offer tips and support on all stressors surrounding one’s mental health. We also hope to interview inspiring stakeholders of sport and much more.
It’s been one year on since the pandemic really kicked off and we feel extremely passionate about our project again. We hope to make as big an impact as we can in the world of mental health, and we will continue to use the sport we love to have bigger and more important conversations in life.
Thank you all for your continuous support, it’s so appreciated.