Sport can bring communities together, and football in particular can have change the way that people think, by bringing down barriers and encouraging people to mix and work together.
As we celebrate Occupational Therapy Week 2017, it’s a great time to look back at the recent St Andrew’s Community Cup – a football tournament which allowed service users from across the county to come together and work alongside each other.
St Andrew’s collaborated with Northampton Town Football Club to host its second Community Cup. Service users from Berrywood Hospital, St Matthews Healthcare, as well as three other community projects, were welcomed to St Andrew’s sports field, with 90 people in attendance.
The football tournament was staged with the objective of giving the participants a meaningful, confidence-building and fun occupational experience, as well as promoting social inclusion.
And that’s exactly what was achieved, as Craig Newman – Senior Occupational Therapist at St Andrew’s Healthcare – explained.
He said: “The success of the tournament confirmed how football, and sport in general, helps create social opportunities, foster social inclusion and develop skills relating to relationships and social acceptance, whilst also combating obesity.
“Football is non-judgemental, allowing individuals to share a common goal and interest, experiencing a sense of meaning, purpose and achievement. It is a non-stigmatising and inclusive activity which provides our patients with a fantastic connection with service users from the local community.
“It’s not only the patients participating in the tournament who were included, either. We have service users who regularly attend our heavy industry workshop, where our cup and keyrings for all attendees were designed and created.
“The organisation and execution of the event demonstrates that we are driving forward new initiatives and leading the way in engaging with other services in the community.”
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Here’s some feedback from the patients and service users who took part in the tournament:
“I felt like I was not in hospital for a short period.”
“The tournament was well organised, competitive; it was nice to play for a trophy and socialise with different people from the community.”
“It’s the best thing I have done since being in hospital.”
“The sportsmanship was outstanding and it felt good to be part of a team and with friends.”
“It was a brilliant event and it helped with my confidence in meeting new people and being challenged.”
“I learnt how to control my emotions more and stay calm which felt amazing.”
“It was nice that the trophy and key rings were made by other patients and we have something to keep, to remember the tournament.”
“The day was great. Everyone enjoyed themselves; we had good team spirit and it was a good atmosphere. It was brilliant that everyone could attend.”
“I felt normal and enjoyed socialising and competing against people I don’t know from other hospitals in a similar position.”
“I had a good time and really enjoyed it. I can’t wait for next time!”
“I enjoyed taking part and having the opportunity to showcase my skills, it made me feel good about myself.”
“I helped in the promotion of the tournament, and with the preparation of the trophy and key rings. The tournament helped me with my people skills as I was serving refreshments, which I previously had not done. I got a lot more confident from this. I had been coming to Friday football previously, not to play but to socialise with patients and staff from other wards as well as help out with refreshments, which I enjoy. This is a highlight of my week, come rain or shine.”
“I had fun. It's the first time I've played football in years and I’m looking forward to playing more often.”
“I had a brilliant time, I can't wait for the next tournament!”
“All of the matches were played with great professionalism by both teams. Every one of our members came away happy and excited about the tournament, which led to them having a positive feeling leading into the weekend.”