A 2015 Fifpro study found that 38% of active footballers have experienced symptoms of depression, and the stats among university students are also quite alarming, with a 2021 study finding that 37% of first-year students suffered from depression and anxiety.
Football is a sport that has generated a lot of attention about mental health, with two prime cases being that of Gary Speed and Jeremy Wisten.
These were two footballers at opposing ends of their careers who both took their own lives due to depression, their stories have been posted across the footballing community to raise awareness of the impacts the sport can have.
With this being the case, local football club Radford FC have taken advantage of their location to bring in university students on and off the pitch.
They’ve done this to offer them experience whilst also allowing them to boost their mental health and have a chance to unwind and relax every week.
In the club’s media department, there has been a string of NTU journalism/broadcast journalism students used as the club’s media team, with the most recent one being Will Hugall, who graduated this summer.
He has spoken very highly of the role and the club and made it clear about how welcoming the club is, and how much it does feel like a second family.
Radford is a mishmash of a club, taking in people from all walks of life, and has kept such a strong identity of taking care of its community – Will Hugall
Will then went on to talk about his mental health at the club, and how, whilst difficult to truly compare, he did notice the positive benefits the club did provide him whilst he worked there
It gave me security knowing that i would have something to always keep me busy at the weekends…when you might be doubting yourself as a journalist, seeing positive comments can make the world of difference – will hugall
The club has been consistently good, with a mix of youth and experience meaning they never have any periods of struggle throughout the season.
Additionally, with one of the strongest fanbases in the league, the club has created a sense of community within the ground, with a collection of fans named the ‘Radderati’ travelling to every game, no matter the distance, just to support the club.
Former player David Adegbola studies real estate at Nottingham Trent University, whilst also now playing for Carlton Town due to his impressive performances for Radford last season
Those performances won him the Player of the Season accolade, and now he looks back at the club as a second family that gave him a chance to feel at home, in a similar sentiment to that of Will Hugall
As for current players, Jimi Reynolds and Sean Devlin both play for the club right now and whilst they know what to prioritise, they also know that they have a frequent chance to have a bit of fun playing the sport they love.
“I just love football, so wherever I’ll play I’ll enjoy it” – Jimi Reynolds
– Sean Devlin on his career at university and at Radford FC
Overall though, the club has been able to keep a string of youth throughout the team due to its location, and with Nottingham Trent University and the club now having a relationship for work experience, there are no signs of this link collapsing any time soon.