August 24, 2020

Footballs (Soccer) & Mental Health - Pigeon Football delivering on both fronts

What is Pigeon Football?

Pigeon Football is a Sydney based company established in 2018 fully focused on two goals - supplying quality footballs and helping local football communities improve awareness and response to mental health in their clubs and schools.

Why Footballs and Mental Health?

Mental ill health is an ever growing problem in today’s society. Football clubs and schools already play a significant role in maintaining good mental health through physical fitness, social interactions and a community spirit but sometimes these positive aspects aren’t enough for some people to avoid mental health issues.

Physical injuries can derail a person’s mental health as much as their mental. With physical injuries clubs call on chiro’s, physios, doctors (GP’s & specialist surgeons) to help the recovery but mental health aspects are mostly ignored. In the 17years since my initial injury, the stigma around mental health has improved but unfortunately statistics around suicide rates, depression, anxiety and the like are increasing.

We believe football communities are in a great position to facilitate positive discussions around mental health, so are helping alleviate financial barriers for clubs and schools to run mental health workshops and certifications in their local football community #footballs4health.

Lived Personal Experience

We know all too well the highs and lows football can provide. Both directors of Pigeon Football were forced out of the game due to severe injuries at an early age.

“If you were my son i’d give you that money and tell you never to play football again”.

The words my surgeon said to me that I will never forget. I ruptured my ACL back in 2003 when I was 20 playing in the NSW NPL1. The years that followed that injury were tough and in hindsight I was ignorant to what a huge impact the injury had had on my mental health.

Brendan, a long time friend and director at Pigeon Football has had multiple ACL injuries, one earlier in his career and a second more recently. The second he says, was far more difficult:

“Mentally the pressure I felt with the second ACL reconstruction when I was 35 was extreme. I had far more responsibilities, young family, mortgage, full time job. It was tough both physically and mentally to get through the rehabilitation - not to mention the financial costs.”

We've bother experienced the difficulty of serious injuries and no longer being able to play football.

Pigeon Football

Our plan is simple. All football clubs and schools need to buy footballs - they are an essential cost. Buying footballs from Pigeon Football means you are supporting a local, Australian owned company and the fight against mental illness by ensuring that a representative from your club/school is upskilled in a Mental Health First Aid certification.

We are passionate about mental health and about football. We spent years sourcing the best quality balls we could find and being a direct link to the supplier means we are able to significantly improve a local club or schools value for money.

What is a Mental Health First Aid Certification?

As we all know, a (physical) First Aid officer acts as the first line of support when a physical injury occurs, providing basic assistance and guiding someone to a professional support structure if the injury requires it.

A Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) officer does the same but rather for a physical injury they are focused on mental health. They are trained to provide first line support and guide that person to existing professional support structures should they need it. The awareness and understanding the certification instills also makes the person invaluable in identifying signals that might be present in a person experiencing mental ill health.

We envisage the MHFA officer at your club/school to be the person championing mental health awareness and good mental health strategies to ensure your organisation is providing the safest possible environment for all it’s members.

Both Directors of Pigeon Football are accredited Mental Health First Aiders

Whats Next?

Having a certified Mental Health First Aid officer at every club and school using Pigeon Footballs is our mission. We’ve also been running Mental health awareness workshops during COVID and hope to run more in 2020/21. Keep an eye out on instagram, twitter or our website for more details.

If you are or know of a school, club or team that are passionate about the wellbeing of their players, please reach out to us or share our details with them - we’d love to help them commit to the mental wellbeing of their members and help make a real impact on the impact mental illness is having in our society.


Michael O’Riley

Founder, Pigeon Football

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Stand out from the rest. Having a certified mental health first aid officer at your club, school or academy will set you apart.