The inaugural Mental Health Football Association League Cup will be held at the Purple Hub, formerly known as St George V, in Huyton, this weekend.
15 mental health football teams from across the United Kingdom as well as an All Star team managed by The Farm’s Peter Hooton will all battle it out to e the first name on the trophy on Saturday.
Other guests for the All Star’s is MP Ian Byrne, Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham and Radio City presenter Mick Coyle, to name a few.
It’s been a long time coming for the Mental Health League Cup for Mental Health Football Association founder, Colin Dolan, after setting up the organisation in 2013 when it started out as a Facebook and Twitter page.
Eight years on and with enough sponsors to run the event, Colin can finally see his plans come to fruition on Saturday.
Colin’s side Football Therapy is a local programme which aides men and women who are suffering from mental health issues both diagnosed and undiagnosed coming together three times a week to kick it out through the sport of football.
After participating in Everton in the Community’s ‘Imagine My Goal’ campaign sponsored by MerseyCare, the Scot believes football transformed his life after he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and representing the Toffees across the country with their community project in tournaments sparked the idea.
The Glaswegian told Off The Park: “I was travelling to represent Everton across the country and that’s where I found mental health teams from across the county, wherever you go theres an organisation doing similar things.
“I wanted to encourage people to communicate, learn and promote each other which is why I came up with the Facebook page.
“This is something that is national and nationally recognised, people are not only getting the opportunity to play but they’re getting the opportunity to meet local celebrities and make a real occasion of the day.
“The priority on Saturday is people having fun and getting joy out of it. The vast majority of people playing the tournaments will have experienced mental health difficulties or they have done in the past.”
“To see each other having a bit of banter and a laugh is fantastic. Also the buzz on the pitch because it is nice when you score a goal, nutmeg someone, win a header or a tackle, it’s a cracking feeling.”
With the inaugural event being held in Liverpool, the 46-year-old is showing no signs of letting up with future cities, such as Glasgow, Swindon and North Wales already in the works for August, November and May next year, respectively.
City of Liverpool chairman, Paul Manning, has welcomed the tournament being held at the Purple Hub, with the premises under new management following the takeover by the Purps.
“It should be a great day,” Manning explained. “Colin hosts the Football Therapy here at the Purple Hub on Friday’s, as a result of our relationship, he has brought the tournament to our site. There’s 54 fixtures with mental health teams from all over the country participating.”
With the easing of restrictions, spectators are allowed at venues and supporters are welcome to watch in what is a great opportunity for many people across the country to showcase their skills with some public figures in attendance too.
The tournament features 16 teams with proceedings kicking off from 12pm at the Purple Hub on Longview Lane (L36 7UN).
For more information, visit the Mental Health FA Twitter page.
Off The Park wishes Colin and all the participants in the tournament.