Sporting Chance today launches its new look education team for the 2023-24 season with an exciting set of new workshops, content creators and facilitators. Now into its third decade of supporting professional sportspeople, the charity will deliver a revamped programme of tailored mental health education for professional sportspeople, remaining committed to its long-held philosophy of using player experience in addition to, not instead of, evidence-based learning.
NEW SEASON, NEW TEAM
Qualified psychologist and former England Rugby Union international, Lauren Fisher joins the education set-up on a full-time basis alongside Head of Non-Clinical Services Alex Mills, both tasked with developing a department that saw more than 250 workshops delivered to over 7,500 athletes in 2022. Together they have assembled a core group of professional sportspeople to create unique workshops aligned with charity’s primary purpose – to reduce the impact of poor mental health in the professional athlete population.
Lauren, having worked with Sporting Chance as an intern prior to obtaining her degree, has experience of education both as a player and at the front of the room as a facilitator: ‘The function of Sporting Chance as an education provider should always reflect the unique position we hold as an organisation within the world of sport. We provide talking therapy to sportspeople day in, day out and our expertise in this area needs to show through in every minute of every one of our sessions. For me, involving athletes in the creation of workshops and training them up to help facilitate workshops is by far the most effective way to connect with other athletes and to try and stimulate changes in attitudes and behaviours where it’s wanted and needed.’
CONTENT CREATORS, FACILITATORS AND ATHLETE VOICE CONTRIBUTORS FOR 2022-2023
Professional footballers Steven Reid, Sam Winnall and Paul Mortimer continue to support the department, along with former dual-code rugby international Joel Tomkins. Trio Harry Podmore, Jack Brooks and James Bracey continue to represent professional cricket having joined the education team in 2022, whilst David Bartlett also covers Sports Medicine topics with his background as Head of Medical at the Welsh Fire and Gloucestershire CCC. New to the team are Tom Thorpe, a former Manchester United youth level captain, Middlesex CCC fast bowler Ethan Bamber, and Gloucestershire batter Tom Lace, who have all spoken publicly about their personal experience of managing their mental health in professional sporting context.
Having been with the charity since 2016, Head of Non-Clinical Services Alex Mills has been particularly pleased with recent recruitment: ‘We’ve managed to bring a strong group together this year, a mix of individuals who are either leading sessions, or contributing to sessions or helping us to shape the content behind the scenes. Getting the right people in place means we are able to have meaningful, credible conversations with athletes that genuinely stick and can help every one of them to think about changes they might want to make in their lives and feel more confident about making those changes. The strength of our programme also lies in the fact that we take our role as an education provider very seriously. For us, it’s not just about sharing athlete experience, it’s about imparting evidence-based knowledge, it’s about getting across that developing your emotional literacy and looking after your mental health works and that there are lots of things that you can you do as soon as you leave this session that can make tangible difference to all areas of your life. That might include accessing therapy, but it’s certainly not limited to that.’
(Alex Mills delivers a session to Crewe Alexandra)
EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF WORKSHOPS
Sporting Chance offers a range of workshops tailored to different audiences and ages within professional sport, including first team squads, academy squads, training groups, parents, coaches, or any club staff whose role might in some way impact on the emotional or mental health of both professionally active and retired athletes.
As mental health education evolves, and sport changes, the charity continues to develop its curriculum with the help of professional sportspeople. New sessions this year include a focused piece on the role of identity as part of wider athlete wellbeing (this has formed parts of other sessions in the past but has been developed into a standalone piece due to demand) and a session for support staff (Coaches, Player Care and MDT's) that can take the form of a 60 minute information giving session or a longer therapist-led workshop. We know from feedback that sporting organisations want something industry specific that can add to the more generalised mental health training they have already received and as a sport-specific mental health service, we have designed both sessions with that feedback very much in mind.
(Harry Podmore and David Bartlett with Swansea City academy in 2023)
Sporting Chance always welcomes enquiries from individuals involved in any form of professional sport who are interested in finding out more about the different ways we educate athletes.
We are funded by our stakeholders and from individual booking fees.
We do not receive any funds directly from the gambling industry.