A former coach at Huddersfield Town and founder of Yorkshire Elite Football Academy (YEFA), James Rourke, has signed for The Football Mental Health Alliance as its first ambassador.

James, a well-known and well-respected figure in the grassroots game across the North of England, started his professional coaching career at Huddersfield Town working for the club for nine years before founding YEFA.

James’ mantra at YEFA is that they teach the game of life through the game of football – this includes introducing the players to the many challenges and obstacles they will face as they progress through life, whatever path they end up on.

Mental health is at the very top of the agenda at YEFA and James and his team of UEFA A & B licensed coaches are keen to place mental health in the foundations of learning at YEFA.

Roberttown-based James said: “Here at YEFA, we understand that as a grassroots football academy, it’s important to recognise that a young player’s mental health can be affected by their experiences on and off the field.

“Players may feel pressure from their families, spectators and teammates to perform well and win games. This pressure can lead to anxiety, stress and a fear of failure.

“As a coach, it’s important to create a supportive and positive environment that emphasises effort, improvement and teamwork rather than just winning.

“It’s important to us as coaches to prioritise the mental well-being of each player and to encourage a healthy balance between football and other aspects of their lives.”

The Football Mental Health Alliance helps grassroots clubs prioritise mental health and provide support. The alliance will shortly launch The Vault, a collection of resources to help, support and promote mental health.

Danny Matharu

Danny Matharu, Mirfield-based founder of the Football Mental Health Alliance, said: “As a grassroots football club, it’s important to prioritise the mental health and well-being of your players.

“James does exactly this at YEFA and this is why I’m thrilled that he’s agreed to join us as an ambassador as well as making The Vault available to all those connected with YEFA.

“Prioritising mental health means creating a safe and supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable talking about their mental health and seeking support if they need it. It also means providing resources and support for everyone. The Vault does just that.

“The Vault is for grassroots clubs to empower their players, coaches, match officials, committee members/volunteers and families with their mental health where people can access further support with their mental health.”

For more information on The Football Mental Health Alliance, visit www.thefmha.com and for more information on The Vault visit https://countyfa.thefmha.com/