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Shamrock Rovers hand pitch over to men's mental health initiative

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

05:20 19 Jul 2019


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Shamrock Rovers supporters were treated to an unforgettable European night on Thursday as they watched their team dump Brann out of the Europa League but it wasn't the only game in town.

At half-time, the club handed the pitch over to a newly formed community group which is encouraging men of all backgrounds, race, age and ability to come together and play an old- school game of football.

The founder of the Jumpers For Goalposts movement, mental health campaigner Keith Kelly, is hoping that it can help men dealing with mental health issues.

"It’s a simple format, it’s free and the benefits have been huge," said Kelly. "The lads opened up with each other to share how they were feeling and to give each other a listening ear.

"There was a buzz about [the first game] for weeks afterwards with people asking when is the next one. It’s exactly what is needed in today’s busy world."

Shamrock Rovers invited Jumpers For Goalposts to play on Europa League night

Shamrock Rovers board director Mark Lynch had seen video footage of the game and after speaking to Kelly invited Jumpers for Goalposts to play on the Tallaght Stadium pitch at half-time in the game against Brann on Thursday night.

"Playing the game in front of the Rovers crowd and the subsequent media promotion will give this great initiative added momentum to reach out to more people and get men playing the game again," said Lynch.

"Men’s mental health awareness is something that the club has been keen to support and this programme will go a long way to encouraging more men to open up with friends and become more socially active."

Kelly explained why he originally decided to give the idea a try.

"I’ve seen first-hand how reaching out and being part of a wider community can offer so much when you’re going through hard times, and even when you’re not," said Kelly.

"It’s so tempting to sit at home and stare at the phone, the laptop or the telly but you have to ask yourself – ‘is this making me happy?’ That’s why I started Jumpers For Goalposts, to create an alternative, to bring people together."

"To be a part of the Shamrock Rovers game on Thursday night was unbelievable, the club has given me the opportunity to bring #J4G to a wider audience.

"I mean this is the biggest club in Ireland, with the best facilities around and tonight's game is a Europa League tie with a huge crowd. Rovers have been amazing, it goes to show how much they care about community projects."

Since he hosted the first event, Kelly has attended several others and has been giving a helping hand to other people looking to host their own.

"Lads from other communities have contacted me asking how they can do it and it’s been an amazing thing to chat with them and to support them to plan a match.

"I’ve been to a few more Jumpers For Goalposts games and the buzz is electric. It’s all about community, craic and a bit of solidarity and support, as so many of us are struggling but don’t often admit it.

"None of us are getting any younger either so it’s no harm to get a bit of exercise and fresh air into the mix too!"

Anyone wishing to be part of the wider network of groups coming together is invited to contact Keith Kelly via Facebook; #Jumpers For Goalposts page, Twitter; @KeithKelly97 or www.jumpersforgoalposts.ie

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