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Mental Health In Sport

Updated: 2 days ago

As the new Mental Health Officer at Cardiff University one of my key manifesto points is to look into Mental Health In Sport and spread awareness.

On the 9th of March 2024 I went to Ninian Park to watch Cardiff City v Ipswich Town. Mark Denham, the head of communications at Cardiff City Football club, invited me personally to do work experience in the press gantry and it was truly a day that I will never forget.

Ipswich Town opened the scoring in the 79th minute when Wales International Kieffer Moore fired the ball in the back of the net. It seemed like Ipswich Town were going to win it as 8 minutes of added time was put on the board. Cardiff City had other ideas and took advantage of the Ipswich Town poor defensive back line as in the 90+5 minute Cardiff City's Ryan Wintle scored. This was a crucial equaliser for the bluebirds. An injured Ipswich Town goalkeeper was treated on the pitch after being caught by Ryan Wintle as he put the shot passed him resulting in there being more than 8 minutes off added time played. As Cardiff City looked strong on the attack Callum O'Dowda scored the second goal for the bluebirds as Ipswich fans booed and complained that the full time whistle should have been blown sooner but nevertheless the goal stood and Cardiff City won the match 2-1. The bluebirds had a glorious victory and got the all important 3 points.

Press Conference

After the match I had the opportunity to speak with the Cardiff City's winning goal scorer Callum O'Dowda in the post-match press conference. I asked him what pushed him to have a more positive mental health throughout his injury. He said that his "family and friends played a key part supporting the recovery process" he went on to say that the "tough days were really bad especially when accepting how long I'd be out for the season". As a football player he said "it is important to be open and honest and express your feelings working with my life coach 24 hours a day really helped".

Cardiff University Sport Students Mental Health

I had the opportunity to speak to a Student at Cardiff University about being an athlete and prioritising her workload. The student stated that she wanted to "inspire young girls, be a role model and do something she found fun as you can't be good at something you don't enjoy!" When I asked the student what sport meant to her she said "it was a stress release and escape so it was good for mental health and wellbeing but there is high intensity and pressure in sport". She went on to say that she did 60 hours of training a week alongside studying and was severely sleep deprived". As Mental Health Officer I want to meet with sports societies wellbeing officers to discuss the importance of balancing playing matches and completing university work in order to maintain good mental health and reduce student stress. She said that "in order to keep positive mental health in sport you should not put too much pressure on yourself. It is clear that athletes have severe injuries and the team aspirations to win help them come back from injury. The student stated that "Athletes are human beings, they are not perfect and failure in sports impacts your mental health as athletes are perfectionists." This exemplifies that athletes are motivated to prove they can come back from injury.

Written By, Grace d'Souza


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