Inclusion at Work

More than a game

Football brings billions across the globe an unmatchable joy. But the smile put on our faces can often come with a cost. It's time to show solidarity.

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£50M! That is the cost to Burnley Football Club if they are relegated from the Premier League. Lyle Foster is their top goal scorer. He’s only 23 years old. He’s arguably their main hope for Premier League survival. So, with so much at stake why is the manager, Vincent Kompany, not playing Lyle Foster? Foolish right?

It’s men’s mental health month and we are giving a much-deserved applause to Premier League side, Burnley Football Club. The side has hit headlines for their incredible leadership in supporting 23-year-old striker Lyle Foster with his unfortunate reoccurrence of mental health struggles.

In light of the Movember campaign, we have seen Lyle Foster come forward and open up about his own health issues – in a statement to the BBC, Burnley  said “With the love and support of his family and everyone at Burnley Football Club, we will do all we can to provide everything he needs to get better.” A heartwarming example of how to put your people first. Many football players have touched on the subject, especially after receiving online abuse every day, it’s bound to take a toll on an individual. But it’s not often we see them prioritise their health and feel comfortable to be vulnerable with their peers – Foster has taken that next step and what a time to do it, during men’s mental health month.

Burnley manager, Vincent Kompany has dealt with this situation exceptionally. Epitomising empathetic leadership, he has not put a time on Foster’s return, and has openly shared his happiness that the striker reached out, so the right people could act appropriately, stating mental health is no longer ‘taboo’. The club have been both professional and human about the whole situation, as Kompany simply said

‘you have to put the human first.’

A line that everybody should remember. It’s hard to ignore the person Kompany is, a former Premier League captain himself, he has stepped into a bigger role and showcased his leadership outside of the sport, revealing Lyle Foster “has a very healthy supportive family and a club and people who want to help him – not just for the player he is, but for the person he is.”

Everyone at the club, especially Lyle Foster, should be proud of themselves. They have stepped up and spoke out, and have done so with confidence and togetherness. There was no hesitation in helping one of their own, and there was no moment of uncertainty of what to do.

With society moving towards a more inclusive culture, it’s key that industries such as football creates a more empathetic and caring environment. It is no longer expected for men to put on a brave face and ‘act hard’, and when you are in the spotlight 24/7, it becomes harder to shut out hate and damaging comments.

There’s no doubt that there has always been a stigma around men’s mental health, and thankfully, we are seeing more campaigns supporting these struggles. It was also recently that Norwich FC released a powerful and thought provoking mental health advert. Football is a common love, shared by billions across the globe. It’s what brings strangers together to share special moments, it’s often the only thing people look forward to each week and it’s able to bring friends and family together every weekend – welcoming conversations and laughter through a shared passion.

Footballers are human too – it is more than just a game.

If you have been affected by this story, or know someone that has been, please find some support line links below:



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