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The Warriors Foundation has teamed up with Rugby League Cares to deliver the charity’s Offload course to men in the Wigan borough.
Offload is a free 10-week programme that empowers men to build and maintain good mental wellbeing by equipping them with the tools and techniques needed to tackle issues such as low mood, anxiety, stress and depression.
The clinically-certified sessions are delivered in a friendly, no-pressure setting by former Rugby League professionals, who share their own experiences of coping with challenging situations, both on the field of play and in their personal lives.
Offload sessions – referred to as ‘fixtures’ – will take place in Wigan every Monday at 6pm at Robin Park Arena, starting on October 4, 2021.
Martin McLoughlin, Head of Community at Wigan Warriors, said: “Wigan Warriors Community Foundation has a long-standing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. As part of that commitment, we have a responsibility to raise awareness and tackle the important issues in society, such as men’s mental health.
“We are delighted to be joining RL Cares and other clubs across the country to support the Offload campaign and play our own part in positively impacting on the lives of our communities and getting the nation talking about men’s mental health.”
Rugby League Cares Head of Community Emma Goldsmith said: “We are delighted to welcome Wigan Warriors to the Offload family and are looking forward to helping men in the town benefit from this fantastic programme.
“The feedback we receive from Offload squad members has been uniformly positive and it’s wonderful to see the difference the programme is making.
“Men who have struggled for years with poor mental fitness are becoming healthy and happy again because of Offload, which is having an amazing impact on both their professional and family lives.”
Offload has been running for four years at Warrington, Widnes and Salford and has been rolled out to other clubs in the Rugby League heartland over the last 12 months.
Earlier this year, an academic study by researchers at Edge Hill University concluded that Offload is “a model of best practice” for engaging with men on issues around mental wellbeing.
The research was published in the international journal, Mental Health and Physical Activity and also found that Offload is achieving dramatic success in both changing and saving the lives of squad members, and providing those involved with a safe space to discuss mental health.
Andy Smith, professor in Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University, said: “Having the sessions led by former professional sports people working alongside mental health and community sport experts made it a safe space and allowed participants to express themselves fully. This, in turn, provided great outcomes for the men involved.”
Whilst many of the squad members are rugby followers, Offload is proving just as successful with non-sports fans who can relate to both the content and the relaxed nature of the setting.
Wigan’s participation in Offload has been made possible with the help of funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.
For more information about Offload, please visit www.rugbyleaguecares.org/offload.
To sign up for free Offload fixtures at Wigan Warriors please email firstname.lastname@example.org.