Daniel James: It's always best to speak out
Manchester United winger Daniel James is on a mission to encourage people struggling with their mental health to speak out, after revealing how talking has helped him to deal with the passing of his father.
The Welsh international opened up on a visit to the home of Place 2 Place FC in Wigan, a sports and social club that uses football to prompt conversations around emotional difficulties.
The charity was set up by Peter Hill, from the Beech Hill suburb of Wigan, after his best friend committed suicide in 2014 at the age of just 30.
James pictured with Place 2 Place FC founder Peter Hill and his award for 'Sporting Unsung Hero'.
In December, Daniel saw a BBC North West Tonight report on Place 2 Place, shortly after Hill had been named the winner of the region’s ‘Unsung Sporting Hero’ award for 2019.
After tweeting that he would love to meet Peter and the club’s members, a meeting was set up.
James spent three hours with the group at the home of Winstanley Warriors – who provide pitches for Place 2 Place – and watched the games, posed for photographs and chatted to participants about their stories.
Daniel told the BBC that the club’s work had touched him, because of his own struggles following the death of his dad, Kevan, shortly before he completed his transfer from Swansea City to United last summer.
“It didn’t really hit me until about three months [after],” admitted the 22-year-old. “I think being at United, and that he knew that I was going to United, was obviously a massive thing for me.
“From then on, I just wanted to make him proud and play for an amazing club, a club I’ve always wished to play for, and for him to look down on me and say, ‘I’m proud of you’. I think that’s helped me so much, just to stay positive.
“Sometimes there are times when you can’t. When something like that happens, it’s always best to speak out. When I have, and I’ve spoken to people in similar situations, it’s helped me so much.”
What an inspirational story. Amazing to see the positive effect football has had here! It’d be lovely to meet Peter and his friends🙌🏼❤ https://t.co/kLNTAcodkA— Daniel James (@Daniel_James_97) December 3, 2019
Soon after Hill’s best friend passed away, two other men from the same family also took their own lives, which forced Peter into action – first via a charity bike ride and, later, starting Place 2 Place FC.
“I think it’s amazing what Peter’s done here,” said United’s no. 21. “Obviously you’ve got the football aspect, but in the intervals and stuff like that they speak to each other and share different stories, which is fantastic.
“Getting the message out there to speak out is huge. You can be the brightest person in the room, but people never know what’s really going on inside, and the hardest thing obviously is to speak out. Peter and myself are trying to encourage people to be able to speak out and speak to others, and not to be afraid to do that.”
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