By Philip O’Rourke (@effect_phil)
We often see the footballing world as this fantasy world, one that most of us can escape to when our own everyday lives are getting on top of us. It gives our minds a release from the pressures of our own struggles. Yes, it can cause heartbreak, yes it can cause tears to flow, but it never lets you down in a way that it can’t be forgiven. Those magical moments it creates cancel out any bad feelings you had from the previous match. As I have recently learned from my previous interviews in my pieces on ‘Forgotten Clubs’, you don’t need to be winning or to be successful to enjoy football. And that to me is the greatest part of it.
People often look for happiness in their lives in various forms, whether it be success in work, love, or money. Football doesn’t care about any of that. Yes, some league haves become money driven but the basic principals still apply. Most football fans get the same feeling of enjoyment watching a game of football down their local park as they do when they watch a football match being shown on Sky Sports on their television. That feeling of seeing a quality pass being made or a shot arrowing into the top corner of the goal, or even a crunching tackle being made. These things happen in every football match. In fact, this can be said about any sport that people are passionate about, but I am just using football as a reference, but you can, of course replace the word ‘football’ with rugby, tennis, GAA, singing etc.
We have this league of ours here on our island, full of quality players, full of history and full of entertainment. I get that people like to watch matches from their armchairs and watch high quality entertainment, I do too, but trust me, nothing is better than experiencing something in the flesh. For example, falling in love with someone in real life is betterthan falling in love with a character you have seen on your television screen, is it not? That feeling of realism, of being in the same space as the event or situation is a better feeling.
I think we are missing a trick here, regarding helping with our mental heath welfare here in Ireland. Something of a taboo subject, not to be discussed because it is not fully understood yet. So many young men and women are committing suicide in our country. I could go into the statistics, and I could go into why and how but honestly, I don’t know why and I don’t proclaim to have all the answers and I’m certainly not here to come up with a simple solution for such a complicated problem, but if I can encourage at least one person reading this piece and help them feel better about themselves then this is progress. Everybody has their own personal demons. What I am trying to get at here is a way to banish those demons, even for a little while, by using sport, and specifically football.
It not a secret that the people of Ireland love their sport and it brings them so much enjoyment. So, I ask the question? Why are we not utilising this as a weapon against depression and using it to prevent suicide? I am not saying it is as easy to just attend a game of football and all your problems are solved, but can that not be the start of it? If you give someone a bit of enjoyment in their life, a glimmer of light they can create something with it, they can work with it. Football can do that. The League of Ireland can do that. It is on your doorstep. Sport can open the mind. It can give people belief in themselves to do other things in their lives. It can give people confidence. You could go to your local match and meet amazing people that can become your friends. People who never thought you would be friends with. You become a part of a group, and in all League of Irelands clubs fan bases you become part of a family. Everybody wants to feel a part of something and football accepts everyone of all races, genders and sexuality and I’m proud our League of Ireland clubs and fans do too.
In a world where there is so much negative news, media scare-mongering and just plain ridiculous nonsense thrown at us daily, it is always a fresh thought that there will be a game of football too look forward too.
Your local club wants you. The fans want you. The players want you. No one should feel on their own in this life, so if you do ever feel like this, know that football is your friend. The League of Ireland is more than football, it’s a family.
I know not everybody likes football but I’m tired of hearing about young people ending their lives too soon when it can be prevented. Football (or whatever you are into) provides a platform for belief. Let’s use it to fight suicide and depression and bring a bit of light into people’s lives.