The Fylde Coast’s first Well-being Hockey Festival took place this month at the home of Fylde Hockey Club in Wesham.
Hockey coach and founder of TEAMReb, a mental health community group, Rebecca Worthington, hosted the event which saw teams compete in an all-day hockey tournament, alongside mental well-being stalls, workshops and talks.
Worthington said: “My main goal was to raise awareness of mental health problems, to encourage those attending to prioritise their mental health and offer inspiration and tools to help players and those watching to thrive.
“The 7 a side mixed hockey tournament was both competitive and fun, with players welcomed to express themselves on the pitch without fear or judgement.”
Worthington knows first-hand the challenges of mental illness having suffered with depression and anxiety for over 15 years. She created TEAMReb to raise awareness and encourage others to speak up and get support.
Hockey teams travelled from as far as Wales to attend the festival which received funding through the National Lottery Community Fund, Sport England and the Comic Relief Groundwork Fund. The event, which Rebecca hopes will be the first of many, was warmly welcomed by the community.
Local health groups and charities such as Lancashire Mind and Andy’s Man Club provided information and support throughout the day. Whilst handmade crafts, gifts and jewellery were available to buy from talented local artist Becky Jeory and KABO Hockey Shop were on-site selling all things hockey.
Sport and mental health charity State of Mind also supported the event, with former Rugby League Player, Jo Phillips providing a talk on her battle with PTSD and depression. Worthington said: “Jo’s playing career ended after suffering a stroke during a cup final. Her story was very insightful and made us all think about the importance of mental well-being and the impact you can have on other people.”
Players were able to take a break with a Breathwork Workshop with coach Lise on one of Fylde Hockey’s all-weather pitches. Lise, a wellness coach, introduced everyone to mouth taping, a technique employed with the intention of encouraging nose breathing.
Hockey games continued throughout the afternoon, finishing with the top two teams playing in a final, before awards and medals were presented. Malcolm Rae, a former Department of Health Nurse Advisor for mental health and co-founder of the charity State of Mind, presented the awards.
He said: “The event was a huge success. It was clear that a lot of time and energy had gone into the preparation and the organisation on the day. I thank Rebecca for inviting me to contribute.”
Worthington, who runs a free weekly well-being hockey session at UCLAN Sports Arena, as well as workshops, and provides resources for clubs and organisations, now hopes to turn the festival into an annual event. She said: “The festival provided everyone attending a chance to pause and invest in their wellbeing, both on and off the pitch.
“Statistically, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. We are all going through things nobody else sees. I don’t think it’s fair that we should have to filter how we feel or sacrifice our health in order to accommodate or make others comfortable. Your feelings are worth talking about and sometimes we need to reach out for help.”