New participation figures from a partnership involving the Irish Football Association (IFA) and Inspire were revealed at the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 15th May until 21st May.

Almost 600 participants from across grassroots football in Northern Ireland have completed the IFA’s bespoke mental health programme, Ahead of the Game, over the course of the last 12 months.

Delivered in settings throughout elite boys and girls academies, 35 workshops – more than ever before in one calendar year – hosted 578 attendees. With the support of UEFA HatTrick funding and two tutors, Kenny Greenhill and TAMHI’s Joe Donnelly, the sessions were facilitated by the Irish FA, alongside Inspire, Change Your Mind and Sports Chaplaincy UK.

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place every May and highlights the importance of positive mental health. In 2023, the theme is anxiety. 

The IFA has also joined forces with the Football Association, the Scottish Football Association and the Football Association of Wales, the Premier League, the English Football League, the League Managers Association and the Professional Game Match Officials, confirming that the collective is united in a ‘commitment to supporting everyone involved in the game in looking after their mental health.’