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On the Ball


Football in the Community takes the matter of community mental health issues very seriously.  On the Ball works with men over the age of 18 who suffer from a variety of mental health issues.

Using football as a way to engage participants, we deliver mental health promotion messages, help them understand their feelings and help them communicate.  The project uses current, high-profile football examples in a half-time team talk to encourage participants to open up about topics around stress, anger management, communication, depression and anxiety, amongst others. The project has been extremely successful, attracting large numbers of hard-to-reach participants, securing funding from high-profile charitable trusts and retaining participants who have a strong affiliation to the project.  We have won a number of awards for On the Ball, including the Football League Trust Award for Best Health Project and have been recognised as an example of best practise by Sportivate.


“Notts County FC Football in the Community worked with the Wells Road Centre – a hospital which treats men aged 18 and over who have varying degrees of enduring mental illness and personality disorders and have a forensic history.  Staff at the Centre primarily champion the use of facilities within the community but the majority of clients are unable to access these whilst in-patients. Service-users can be hospitalised for extended periods of time (18 months to 5 years) and there is a real need for a varied programme, both within the hospital and within the community.

“Barriers to participation in sports include low motivation, lethargy and inactivity due to the side effects of medication.  Ian Richardson, Activity Manager at Football in the Community visits the Centre prior to delivery of sessions to discuss course content and ensure the course is tailored appropriately to this client group.

“Coaches then visited each ward, each week, prior to the sessions to encourage and motivate patients to attend sessions. Three clearly defined exit routes were in place: the On the Ball Project, which runs free weekly sessions at the local Portland Leisure Centre for service users from across the whole of Nottinghamshire, Mapperley Rangers, which runs weekly training sessions and plays fixtures in the Positive Goals league, and pan-disability football squads organised by Football in the Community.

“There is now, however, a need to educate more sports clubs and coaches to understand mental health issues so that this and other similar work can be integrated into mainstream community sport.” – Sportivate



Portland Centre 

Muskham Street





Monday 1pm until 3pm

Wednesday 11am until 1pm


Core Staff:

Manager – Ian Richardson


To register your interest in joining the On the Ball project, you can either call Ian on 0115 905 5896 or fill out the form below and Ian will get back to you: