22 Sep 2019 in News
MHF Wins Community Initiative Award on Special Night for Oldham Sports
It was the Oldham Sports Awards on Friday night and AFC Oldham was represented by several of our dedicated volunteers in what is Oldham's most anticipated evening in the grassroots sports calendar. This year we had the good fortune to hear from two outstanding keynote speakers.
Commonwealth Gold-winning Netball Coach, Tracey Neville, was certainly the most eye-catching name on the programme, but it was Jo Taylor, founder of ABC Diagnosis, who stole the show. ABCD is a breast cancer charity which promotes and facilitates therapeutic physical activities for people living with cancer. Jo rightly received an award, and an extended standing ovation, after her frank, uplifting, and inspiring account of what sport can do in the most testing of circumstances.
Sport's far-reaching impact was apparent throughout the ceremony, with further evidence from mental-ill-health sufferer turned sports ambassador Reddy Lenge. Chadderton Park Sports Club, whose inclusive programme is as impressive as it is accessible, also received an award.
Perhaps it should not have been a surprise, in the context of the other awards given, that AFCO's Andy Steel, Ross Elliott and the volunteers at Mental Health Football were recognised with the Community Initiative Award. Andy's astonishment in particular was visible on his face, and it was certainly a strong category.
Nonetheless, MHF is most definitely deserving. It's a simple concept - playing football with no pressure as an escape from the daily grind - but the effect on the participants has been fundamental to their continued good health. In many cases, it has been an essential lifeline to those struggling with what can be a pervasive, daunting, and isolating form of illness.
We asked Andy what the award means for MHF: "We've already seen the numbers of followers of our Twitter account grow; that's more people who are being exposed to MHF, hearing about what we do, and spreading the word. Hopefully we'll see even more people through the doors and benefiting.
"I was a little choked up on Friday when we'd won; it hit me how far we've come. MHF is this little, magical thing that continues to grow - winning [the award] will hopefully see more people join our small, weekly community."
We at AFC Oldham all want to wish Andy, Ross, and all those at MHF the best of luck in the Greater Manchester Sports Awards later this year. Thank you to all those who nominated both MHF and AFC Oldham for awards.
Mental Health Football is open to everyone and meets every Friday 7pm-8pm at Oldham Futsal Arena, Oldham, OL9 6DS. It's absolutely free, although donations are welcome.