Blackburn Rovers Community Trust are helping to promote Mental Health Awareness Week by showcasing the Social Inclusion Football League on the Ewood Park pitch this Friday.
A special round of fixtures sees the award-winning competition move a few hundred yards from its regular home in the Blackburn Rovers Indoor Centre to give the players a bonus opportunity to play on a high-quality professional surface.
Three groups, each containing seven teams, will be played on a round-robin basis, before a knockout involving the top eight teams to determine the day's overall winner.
However, as Paul Hardman, support coordinator at Creative Support admits, it's being a part of the community that matters more than the silverware on the day. The driving force behind the life-changing SIFL explains:
"It's good that Mental Health Awareness Week helps to make the wider public aware of the challenges that a lot of people face, and with the league supporting a lot of people in that situation, amongst others, the timing of the event is perfect.
"Not many people outside the professional game get to play at Ewood Park, so for the SIFL, its teams and players to have this opportunity is a real honour. Blackburn Rovers is the focal point of our community; a community that is both diverse and inclusive and we are very proud to be a part of it."
The Social Inclusion Football League supports local people who find themselves isolated from society through a variety of situations, including mental health concerns, recovery from substance misuse or arriving in the area as a refugee or asylum seeker. The competition brings teams of like-minded people together to regain physical or mental fitness, make new friends and potentially access opportunities for personal development, such as places on coaching or officiating courses.
Friday's action takes place from 10am to 1.30pm and we'll publish a review of the top action at the conclusion of the event.