I recently celebrated my fourth anniversary as an ambassador of the Blue Ribbon Foundation, a national charity working to raise awareness of male health issues by encouraging men to take positive action to safeguard their health and wellbeing
I was delighted when I was asked by the Foundation Chairman, Jonathan Prince MBE to become an ambassador for the charity and I’m very proud of my involvement with the Blue Ribbon Foundation and of the role I’ve played in establishing the charity’s important relationships in football, the industry that I worked in for 25 years. Firstly with the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT), the UK’s largest football related charity, which has seen the Foundation working closely with CACT’s renowned health programme in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and secondly, the link with Ebbsfleet United FC which has seen the foundation support the Club’s work within the Gravesham community since 2013.
Unfortunately it is a sad fact of life that men, unlike women, are less willing to monitor their own health, take note of changes or potential problems and then discuss those issues with their family or friends let alone doctors or medical advisors. Perhaps there is a belief that if signs and symptoms are ignored, they will go away – ‘‘it will be better in the morning…’’. Or maybe some consider it is not ‘macho’ to keep bothering GPs about little aches, pains, lumps and bumps or perhaps feel that they are too busy and ‘‘haven’t got the time to go to the doctor’s’’. How many of you are nodding in agreement to yourself as you read this?
It was against this reality backdrop that the ‘Blue Ribbon Foundation’ was established by the same people behind the highly successful ‘Pink Ribbon Foundation’ which, as you probably know, does fantastic work in promoting breast cancer awareness and in funding those UK charities which relieve the needs of people who are suffering from, or who have been affected by, breast cancer or who work to advance the understanding of breast cancer, its early detection and treatment.
Ignoring any health concerns of any individual, male or female, can have a devastating effect on lots of people. Burying heads in the sand and hoping things will improve by themselves is not an option!
I have long believed that football and sport in general can play a huge role in promoting health awareness issues as, for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned, we men are not suddenly going to take ourselves off to the doctor’s or health centre but what is proven is that we will go and have our blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked with our mates at a health road show held inside a football ground on a match day. This is something we’ve done regularly at Charlton Athletic and Ebbsfleet United.
Of course, I appreciate that supporters don’t go to a football match to have someone lecture them on their lifestyle or to worry them unnecessarily about their health issues – supporting a football team can be stressful enough without having to put up with that as well! However, if a matchday health promotion makes just one supporter either think more about their health and/or go and speak to a doctor about their concerns, then it’s job done.
Finally I’ll leave you with this thought; if you felt that your car was not performing as it should, that it felt ‘wrong’, the engine sounded ‘strange’ or the brakes felt ‘spongy’, you’d take it to a mechanic to check it over, wouldn’t you? All we, at the Blue Ribbon Foundation are asking is that men apply that same thought process to their own well being.
Makes you think, doesn’t it…