DROGHEDA UNITED have renamed their home ground ‘Head in the Game Park’ for the coming season to promote mental health awareness.
The decision came about from a raffle among corporate patrons — initially planned for last year — where a sponsor would get naming rights for United Park.
But a draw this year was won by local councillor Joanna Tully, who suggested the mental health advocacy group ‘Head in the Game’ would be a fitting name.
Drogs chairman Conor Hoey said: “It’s basically about raising awareness and getting the message across. Whenever you write that a game is in ‘Head in the Game Park’, it will be in people’s minds.
“We’ll do more, there will be a big sign on the pitch and in the stand at every game. It’s about raising awareness, so that people seek help, or ask people if they are OK.”
CROSS CLUB MEANING
The fact that ‘Head in the Game’ was begun by a group of Dundalk fans and it is Louth rivals Drogheda United backing them highlights how it is an issue that crosses club loyalties.
The group was set up last year to raise awareness after former Lilywhites videographer, groundsman and everything in between Harry Taaffe took his own life.
With the support of Taaffe’s family, they put together an advocacy group linked to charities Jigsaw and Shine. Head in the Game member Stephen Todd explained: “A charity raises funds, an advocacy group makes a lot of noise.
“We did a Movember last year and gave all the proceeds to Jigsaw and Shine. But we want to get the message out.”
It led to a campaign last year labelled ‘Don’t turn your floodlights off’ with a short video broadcast at half-time during games on the WatchLOI stream.
But Drogheda’s support will provide a much bigger profile this season to get their message out there.
And Hoey acknowledged that it is an area where younger supporters are well ahead of the club.
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He added: “Even two years ago, our supporters had a banner saying, ‘It’s okay not to be okay’. And I was, ‘Wow’, this is being done by 15-, 16-year-olds’.
“When I was that age you’d be embarrassed to talk about it, but it shows how it has changed, that there is maturity to talk about it now.
“The League of Ireland, I feel, is very good at community work. If this helps some people it will have been worth it.”