By Tom Walker | Head of Sport
Cardiff University sport teams, including the likes of American football, rugby and football, are once again taking on the Movember challenge.
The Movember initiative is an annual event that takes place during November, whereby participants involved grow moustaches throughout the month to raise awareness and funding for men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.
Since its inception, the Movember Foundation has raised almost $837 million and funded over 1,200 different projects in more than 20 countries.
Last year, Cardiff University men’s rugby team raised £4,800 for the charity, and this year are looking to break the £5,000 mark.
I spoke to Edward Martin, the Cardiff University rugby charity secretary, to discuss his teams Movember efforts and the wider importance of the initiative on mens’ mental health and sport’s role in that.
“Not only have we had a long-standing relationship with Movember throughout previous years.” Edward said when explaining why the team got on board with Movember, “But this year especially with England and Wales coming in and out of lockdowns it is more important than ever that we keep on top of our mental health and have the courage to have difficult conversations and we think that Movember is a great medium in which to raise awareness and a great cause to raise money for.”
I asked Edward how important it is to get over the stigma that surrounds mens sport, and men in a wider sense, about speaking out about mental health?
“This is a problem that we are constantly working to overcome in the rugby club, it is vital that we continue to encourage people to talk in order to raise awareness and allow people to share problems and help one another.” Edward responded.
Men’s mental health has been a taboo topic for a long period of time. The Office for National Statistics said men accounted for around three-quarters of suicide deaths registered in 2019, 4,303 compared with 1,388 women. These are troubling figures, but initiatives like Movember are brilliant building blocks to fundraise and start a conversation.
I asked Edward whether he believed a team context that sports like rugby endeavour themselves to, is a good way to encourage men to speak out and how the club itself supports those in the team who may be struggling with their mental health?
Edward believed wholeheartedly that a team can be an excellent context as you are around “like minded people” which could ease the process of opening up to one another. He also explained the role of the rugby’s welfare secretary and “more importantly” a culture of an “open-talking relationships so that any person, whether they are senior or a first year, can approach anyone to talk about their problems.”
The Movember initiative is vital for men’s wellbeing and mental health, both in the UK and around the world” Edward explains, “they are doing great work.”
You can check out the donation page in the link below (cardiffunirfc) and you can head to Movember.com to find out more about the work the charity does.