We all know that being active and getting involved in sport is great for our physical fitness. But it has also been proven to have a powerful and positive impact on mental well-being. 

“Being physically active can improve mood, decrease the chance of depression and anxiety and lead to a better and more balanced lifestyle.”

Sport England

But there can often be barriers in the way, especially for those within marginalised groups. Getting involved in sport or joining a team might not seem like a big deal to many of us. But to others it’s not quite as simple as that.

Which is why Sheffield-based mental health charity Flourish founded the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Flourish League back in 2018 (formerly known as the Good Mood League).


The league represents a football opportunity for clubs who can evidence an inclusive approach to people from marginalised groups. Teams play 11v11 football in a completely flexible format, with teams allocated one fixture a month throughout the season.

Clubs already involved in the league demonstrate an inclusive approach by creating active partnerships with some of the following services: NHS foundation trusts, mental health charities, homeless charities, refugee & asylum seekers, drugs & alcohol.

We chatted to league secretary Lisa Thompson about how the league has developed:

“We started out with two divisions, with five teams in Division 1 and four teams in Division 2. We’ve now grown in size to four divisions for this season, with seven new teams affiliated. All of the teams involved demonstrate an inclusive approach. 

For example, Brunsmeer Awareness FC has a wide range of males with complex mental health lifestyles. Some of which are living in secured living and have a scheduled release time to play and train whilst preparing to be discharged into the community.

We know from research that there is a wider issue of men’s mental health nationally. In Sheffield alone there is a higher percentage of men on the mental health wards.

I can speak from my own experience as a female living with Mental Health, that football has been my escape.

By the end of next season we are looking to add a Female division and are continuing to have a positive partnership with the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA.”


“The football team has helped me build my confidence up as I am able to socialise with other people who are going through similar problems. We are able to talk as well as let off some steam through playing sport.”

Brunsmeer Awareness player.

Rooted in the community of Sheffield and wider South Yorkshire, Flourish support people to use their skills, ideas and talent to build the lives they want.

In addition to the football league, Flourish offer a huge range of resources, including the Sheffield Mental Health Guide, a directory of mental health services in Sheffield.

The new Sheffield Flourish League season begins this week, with a round of fixtures taking place across South Yorkshire.

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