A groundbreaking initiative led by football’s prominent figures, including USWNT star Naomi Girma, England international Ben Chilwell, and Women’s Super League record scorer Vivianne Miedema, has emerged as a beacon of hope for addressing mental health concerns within the sport.
Named ‘Create The Space,’ this player-led project, in collaboration with groups such as Common Goal and Football Beyond Borders, is set to make a significant impact, aiming to address mental health issues across all levels of the beautiful game, from professional leagues to grassroots initiatives.
The driving force behind this initiative is Common Goal, an organization that, since its inception in 2017, has rallied over 250 football personalities worldwide to contribute at least one percent of their earnings to various projects around the globe.
‘Create the Space’ is spreading its wings across both the United Kingdom and the United States, with Naomi Girma taking the helm of the movement in the U.S.
Girma, a prominent player for the San Diego Wave, has long been an outspoken advocate for mental health in sports. She dedicated her place in this year’s World Cup to her Stanford teammate Katie Meyer, who tragically took her own life at the age of 23.
Girma shared her insights on the project, stating, “What I have learned through losing my best friend is that everyone struggles in their own way, even when it doesn’t seem they are.”
Girma emphasizes that suffering doesn’t always manifest as it does in movies and that regardless of one’s profession, making regular check-ins on others and oneself is vital. She believes that ‘Create the Space’ has the potential to empower individuals to become the best versions of themselves and could even save lives.
In the United States, Common Goal is preparing to launch a pilot project next year with a particular focus on youth coaches in communities facing the highest risk. ‘Create the Space’ envisions football as a potent tool for promoting mental health at the grassroots level while transforming the pinnacle of the game into a space where everyone feels encouraged and comfortable expressing themselves both on and off the pitch.
Earlier this year, Chelsea and England defender Ben Chilwell disclosed that he had been actively seeking support for his mental health for a “few years.” He candidly acknowledged the stigma often associated with discussing mental health, especially within the male-dominated sphere of the game.
Launching the initiative in the United Kingdom, Chilwell shared his perspective, saying, “I have embarked on my own mental health journey and have been unsure where to turn for support.
It falls upon our generation to lead this change and ensure that within the world of football, from elite levels to community organizations, we stand together and equip ourselves with the tools to support one another.”
Create The Space Program To Challenge Stigma and Foster Support
‘Create the Space’ is poised to challenge the entrenched stigma around mental health in the world of football, where players often grapple with tremendous pressure and expectations. The initiative’s goal is to create a culture where athletes, regardless of their status, can openly discuss their mental health and find the support they need.
Naomi Girma’s personal connection to the cause serves as a powerful testament to the importance of addressing mental health in sports.
The tragic loss of her friend Katie Meyer has been a driving force for her advocacy, and she believes that the sporting world can play a crucial role in dismantling the barriers surrounding mental health conversations.
Ben Chilwell, too, adds his voice to the cause, recognizing the challenges he faced in seeking support and sharing his journey.
He underscores the responsibility of their generation to pave the way for a more compassionate and understanding football community. The stigma attached to discussing mental health in the sports world is a hurdle that ‘Create the Space’ aims to overcome.
‘Create the Space’ represents a beacon of hope for a sport grappling with the mental well-being of its athletes. By providing a platform for athletes to share their experiences and express themselves, this initiative seeks to empower individuals and foster a support network that spans all levels of football, from elite competitions to community organizations.
It’s a step toward a more inclusive, empathetic, and understanding football community where the mental health of players is a priority.
The involvement of prominent football personalities like Naomi Girma, Ben Chilwell, and Vivianne Miedema sends a powerful message about the importance of addressing mental health challenges within the sport.
‘Create the Space’ is more than an initiative; it’s a movement that has the potential to reshape the culture of football and make it a safer, more supportive environment for players to thrive.
In conclusion, ‘Create the Space’ is poised to challenge the status quo and spearhead a transformation in the world of football, one that prioritizes the mental health of its athletes.
By breaking down stigma, fostering support, and equipping football for a brighter future, this initiative has the potential to leave an indelible mark on the sport, benefiting players of all levels.