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Football South Coast is proud to throw its support behind an initiative seeking to improve the mental health of thousands in the Illawarra footballing community.

Port Kembla FC have got the ball rolling in partnering up with the University of Wollongong to structure an evidence-based mental health program designed specifically for sports teams.

The program, which has already been implemented by a number of professional sporting clubs in Australia and overseas, includes a 45-minute session held with teams of 15 to 20 players in a “sports-like” environment such in a changing room before or after training.

It aims at assisting individuals to identify mental health issues with themselves and their teammates, starting conversations on to how to look for help.

“All of our members and our clubs inside our association have in some way been impacted by mental health issues over the years,” FSC board member Tracey Freeman said.

“It’s a positive for all of us in the football game to get involved in.

“It’s a fantastic initiative, Football South Coast has been involved with UOW in the past with Ahead of the Game and this builds on that.”

Port Kembla has already committed to funding the first 20 programs with a “United in Strength” gala night being held on Saturday, July 2, to raise further funds for additional programs.

“Our club’s been affected by this terrible mental health disease,” Port Kembla president Frank Gigliotti explained.

We lost a couple of very beautiful young boys over the last couple of years and it’s really affected both Port Kembla and the football community as a whole.

“Port Kembla has committed to the first 20 programs and Port Kembla will be paying for that. Moving forward, our function on the 2nd of July is to raise extra funds so we can increase the program.

“This is for the whole football community and we are looking at this being a long-term thing, not a short-term thing.”

Illawarra NPL 1 club the Wollongong Wolves have also signalled their intent to be a part of the movement with CEO Strebre Delovski determined to be “proactive, not reactive”.

“As a club, we support the initiative and commend not only Port Kembla but also Wollongong University for coming on board and as a community and a football family we all need to get behind it,” he said.

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