This week sees the launch of Football Beyond Walls, an initiative that pairs young people and professional footballers for a game of FIFA and a meaningful conversation about their lives in lockdown.
Ahead of the launch, Fulham’s Cyrus Christie spoke to Football FanCast about his involvement in the initiative and his thoughts on mental health and Fulham’s promotion chances.
It’s a very strange time for a lot of us right now, but there are still some things that remain the same, the joy of FIFA bringing people together.
Now the popular video game is being used as a tool to help people open up about their mental health and how they can deal with the stresses of the lockdown whilst at the same time coming together to talk about their problems whilst with the comfort of a controller in their hands.
Speaking to FFC, the Fulham defender talked about how the idea of using FIFA to inspire teenagers to open up about the subject came about.
“I spoke to Jasper [Jasper Kain, Director of Football Beyond Borders] and I was speaking to him about running a FIFA tournament that I was running, which is still ongoing now. I was speaking to him in the build up to it and I was saying that maybe we can partner with him and do it. And then he mentioned that they’ve also been speaking about a thing for FIFA and they said “Are you interested in playing FIFA against some of the kids and talking to them.”
In the film, Christie talks with his FIFA partners about how they are all coping with isolation during the lockdown and when speaking to Football FanCast he talked about how difficult a time like this is going to be for a lot of people given the circumstances.
“In general it is going to be tough for a lot of people. A lot of people obviously are going to be in certain different situations, maybe their home life might not be great. I think the cases of domestic abuse has gone up, and there are obviously people out there that are struggling on a day to day life of being locked in because they have got their freedom that potentially bravely keeps them sane.”
When asked whether or not he felt that there were enough safeguards in place to help people cope with their mental health, Christie felt that the way things were handled so haphazardly by those in charge, there wasn’t really a lot of time put aside to make sure that every single aspect of society was taken care of.
“I think on that kind of aspect, this obviously has not been thought about, but there’s not many measures are in place because we reacted so late to the virus that it kind of all come out at once, so people weren’t able to maybe plan and get themselves right for the potential of what’s happened. So, you know, it’s I think it’s like we said, it’s great that with the FIFA thing that their kids were able to talk and express themselves.”
The good thing about FIFA, and technology the way that it is today, is that it has allowed people to connect with others that they wouldn’t have had before, and Christie notes that for kids today, having this technology at their disposal has opened up great new possibilities that might not have come about if it were not for the lockdown.
“I think really, for a lot of people, especially when you look at the older people, their social life is people coming round to see them and them talking to people so I think you might find that a lot of these old people haven’t got maybe haven’t got the internet to talk to people. Whereas obviously, with a kid, it’s easy to communicate with others.
I think it’s been a blessing that it’s allowed other people to maybe give themselves a mental break and explore different avenues that they’re in, and work on themselves that they might not have had the time to do.”
The first footballer taking part in Football Beyond Walls is Fulham’s Cyrus Christie, who took on two teenagers at FIFA. You can see the results in this brilliant film – https://vimeo.com/415466197/45f135a012