Ahead of the Game

Ahead of the Game

Ahead of the Game is a global mental fitness and wellbeing programme designed by Movember and delivered in the UK by Rugby League Cares. 

Ahead of the Game is directed at children and young people aged between 12 and 18: its focus is early intervention and enables youngsters to understand their mental fitness, focusing on anxiety, depression and ways in which they can ‘help a team-mate’ who may be struggling.  

Research shows that 50 per cent of adults diagnosed with a mental health problem experience their first symptoms by the age of 14, and 75 per cent by the age of 18. 

This is why RL Cares has set out to educate as many young people as possible about their mental health. We are endeavoring to reduce the prevalence of poor mental health by showing young people how to spot the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Ahead of the Game equips them with tools and techniques to ‘help out a mate’ who may be struggling with their mental health, and shows how they can approach and support them if needed.  

What makes what we do unique is that all our facilitators are current or former professional rugby league players. During the workshop, our facilitators are often open and show a level of vulnerability from experiences in their own lives and careers that can inspire children and young people to do the same.  

Following a hugely-successful partnership with Movember for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, RL Cares was appointed the UK implementation partner for Ahead of the Game and we are now delivering this project nationwide.  


Ahead of the Game is now being delivered within schools as part of PE sessions and wellbeing days. The programme is currently undergoing a detailed evaluation by, and in partnership with, Edge Hill University to determine how well it works within the school setting. 

Community clubs 

We deliver across many community clubs from under-12 teams right up to under-18s. As well as delivering to players, we also deliver specially-designed workshops for the parents and coaches to educate them on how to understand, approach and handle any situation where a player may need support. We are working towards a community that not only normalises vulnerability but also has a support network in place.  

Here is a snapshot of the typical feedback we receive: 


“Cory is a rugby player himself and that helped us engage with him: he helped us all understand what others may be going through and how to spot if us or our team-mates are struggling, and who to go to for help.” 


The programme showed me that I don’t need to think I know the answer to everything, but just to be there for my players, and that listening is equally as important.”   


 After my son had the workshop with Damian he came home and spoke to me afterward and said a lot sounds like what you’re going through dad… I went to the docs the following Monday and had a care plan prescribed and it has changed my life. My entire family has said how different I have been this last month – ‘like my old self’. Thank you for saving my life.” 

Club foundations 

Leeds Rhinos, Fulham FC, Harlequins RU and Everton FC are all delivery partners of ours. We are continuing to grow and are looking at creating new partnerships with other foundations across all sports in many different areas. Working alongside us, participating foundations will help Movember reach greater numbers across the UK. We go into each club and train all their facilitators and assess them to make sure the highest standards are met.  

Since the project started in September of 2020, we have delivered Ahead of the Game to over 20,000 children and young people aged 12 to 18 – and this number is continuously growing. We are incredibly proud of the figures but are always looking to get the message out wider. If you would like Ahead of the Game delivered in your school or community club please get in touch via info@rlcares.org.uk