With 2023 World Mental Health Day now upon us, we take a look at what some of our illustrious guest speakers have said to us about the topic of mental health, specifically within the football and wider sports community.

A long list of sports industry professionals and executives come in to UCFB and GIS and offer insight to our students, many of whom are passionate about campaigning towards mental health within sport.

Former Leicester City and Derby County manager Nigel Pearson is a strong advocate of not shying away from the issue, saying: “It’s been a taboo subject for a long time, and I think sometimes coming out and admitting that you’ve got problems has been perceived as a weakness.

“I think that’s been a real stumbling block; it blocks people from even approaching the subject. It’s a very real problem in modern society and has been for a long time, but it’s just not been openly accepted.”

Current West Ham United manager David Moyes spoke to us in 2019 about how important mental health is within a successful football club.

He said: “I am not too sure the word ‘mental health’ was out eight/nine/ten years ago; if you used the word ‘mental health’ then it would have been seen as something much more hospital orientated.

“I think it won’t be long until the clubs are employing people who can deal with that themselves whether that be specific types of doctors or psychologists that can deal with it.”

In the short space of time since he spoke to us about this, his predictions have become true. Player Care is now so important in modern football, particularly elite football including the Premier League.

Roles such as player care officers are now commonplace in football, focusing on individual players’ mental and physical wellbeing, in an attempt to better their individual performances on the pitch, and in connection, the performance of the team.

In connection with this, UCFB/GIS is pleased to launch the all-new Professional Qualification course, the Certificate in Elite Player Care and Wellbeing.

The course has been designed to support sports industry professionals and enhance their practice through a multidisciplinary understanding of player welfare.

The course aims to:

  • Define mental health and be able to describe some of the general and sports-specific influences upon it.
  • Appreciate the mental and emotional challenges that can exist in elite sports environments.
  • Identify the issues present at critical moments in sports careers, specifically when players are injured, transferred, and when they retire.
  • Recognise the specific needs of youth players, foreign players, and female players.

Dr Richard Elliott, head of professional education at GIS, said: “We initially built this course for individuals who perhaps had ‘player care’ as part of their role.

“We’re quite surprised actually, because we’ve got those individuals but we’ve also got a significant number of ex-elite athletes, such as Premier League and Football League footballers and rugby league players.”

Former Juventus, Portsmouth and Stoke City striker Vincent Pericard said: “I’m so pleased to see the ceation of this course. It will be crucial for any sports professionals who is committed to player care and wants to learn how to support the wellbeing of athletes.

“I strongly believe it will be a game-changer.”

To find out more about GIS’ other professional education courses, click here.

Additionally, see the vast number of undergraduate degree courses UCFB offers within the sports industry by clicking here.

Alternatively, click here to view a prospectus and see our wide array of Master’s degrees, from sports marketing to sports coaching and sports business to sports analysis.