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Mick McDermott warns of 'mental health explosion' as Glentoran boss fears for players' wellbeing



Concerns: Glentoran boss Mick McDermott

Concerns: Glentoran boss Mick McDermott

Concerns: Glentoran boss Mick McDermott

Glentoran manager Mick McDermott says he is concerned for the mental health of football players as well as other elite sportsmen and women during the coronavirus pandemic.

The game in Northern Ireland has been suspended until May 31 and players are currently in lockdown, unable to train with team-mates.

Danske Bank Premiership clubs still have seven games to play while the Irish Cup has reached the semi-final stage and promotion and relegation matters are unresolved.

Uefa have given the Northern Ireland Football League a deadline of May 25 to submit their plan for any possible restart of the season.

It's been a frustrating waiting game for the players, who haven't been involved in a league match since March 7.

Now robbed of their weekly football routine and the opportunity to work together as a team, players are fighting to stay in good mental as well as physical health and McDermott says he has concerns.

"If you are talking about mental health, which is a hot topic right now, you have hundreds of players in Northern Ireland who are creatures of habit in terms of when they wake up, eat and train," said the Glens boss.

"They have behaved in a certain way throughout their careers and now they are sitting staring at the walls.

"If you keep people locked up in this way for a long period of time you do risk a mental health explosion."

McDermott added: “Players are competitive and need sport. Sport isn’t as important to people at an amateur level but for more elite sportsmen and women it’s their careers and lives.

“Professional athletes can’t be compared with the weekend warrior who wants to run about.

“What’s the difference between a professional footballer and an accountant? It’s their careers and I hope the players can return to training soon.

“There are thousands of elite athletes sitting at home doing very little. A lot of clubs are using the furlough scheme and players are voluntarily training.”

NIFL have also recognised mental health fears following the Covid-19 outbreak by establishing partnership programmes to support clubs and personnel.

“We are aware of the importance of mental health at this time and the NI Football League is committed to providing continued practical support and guidance during these difficult times,” NIFL said.

Among the initiatives is a new football psychology app aimed at supporting the development of positive mental health for successful sporting performance and personal wellbeing.

While the players struggle to adapt to life without football, managers have been able to take a well-earned break from the emotional torture.

“You miss the game at the weekend but managers haven’t had time in their careers to take a break,” added McDermott.

“If the managers are being honest they will tell you it’s a welcome break from the madness but you still miss it.

“People have no idea how stressful management can be.”

Belfast Telegraph