'Football helped me get sober' - How the grassroots women's game is saving lives

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With help from National Lottery funding, Minds United helped Myra Franklin find a purpose (Image: Tim Anderson)
With help from National Lottery funding, Minds United helped Myra Franklin find a purpose (Image: Tim Anderson)

Myra Franklin was drinking so heavily when she joined Minds United FC that she can’t remember the month - or year - she first went along. But the 34-year-old is clear about one thing - the club saved her life.

“My memory of that time is really bad, I don’t remember dates,” admits Myra, who lives in West London.

“My mate Vicky played for Minds United, which is a club for anyone affected by mental health issues, and pestered me to go. I was nervous - Covid had wrecked my leg muscles - but I agreed to try goalkeeping.”

She needn’t have worried. “I loved everyone instantly,” she says. “They were all trying to get me out of this rut, even though I was a being a pain, and I quit drinking completely.”

'Football helped me get sober' - How the grassroots women's game is saving lives rriddqixxiqezinvMyra training at West Way Sports Centre in London (Tim Anderson)

But in November 2022, Myra had a relapse and was diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, which can be fatal. “It was like the universe telling me I had one last chance,” she says.

Earps reacts to FIFA Best nomination and on season so far with Man UtdEarps reacts to FIFA Best nomination and on season so far with Man Utd

Just as she needed it most, Minds United’s CEO, Tarik Kaidi, handed her a lifeline. “He asked if I wanted to volunteer at the club,” she recalls. “It gave me a real purpose, lifted my spirits and got my mind off alcohol.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, over £50m has been raised for women’s football over the past 10 years, supporting clubs like Minds United FC.

Myra’s team recently returned from winning the women’s division of the EASI Cup mental health tournament in Holland. “It was so much fun,” she says. “We’re like a big family. Joining Minds United has changed my life.”

'Football helped me get sober' - How the grassroots women's game is saving lives

To find out how your numbers make amazing happen, visit national-lottery.co.uk/life-changing

George Gaston

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