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Match at Southend United to raise awareness and funds for mental health charity

Raising awareness - Run Free United and London Southend Airport <i>(Image: NICKY HAYES)</i>
Raising awareness - Run Free United and London Southend Airport (Image: NICKY HAYES)

A FOOTBALL match to raise funds for South East and Central Mind will be taking place at Roots Hall tomorrow night.

The game will see a side from London Southend Airport playing against mental health support group Run Free United.

And Run Free captain Louis Reeves cannot wait for kick-off.

Excited is an understatement and I’m constantly thinking about the game,” said Reeves.

“This is more than just a game of football.

“It’s during mental health week and we’re raising money for Mind, a charity which is so close to not only myself but a lot of the lads involved in this game.”

And the fundraiser is particularly poignant for Reeves.

“I lost my dad to suicide and as you can imagine that then caused me to spiral into a long battle with my own mental health struggles,” said Reeves.

“So the fact that I am leading out a group of amazing people onto Roots Hall in order to raise money for a charity that is fighting for mental health support means the world to me.

“We don’t want to lose anyone else, everyone deserves to feel supported no matter what they’re going through and that’s what we’re fighting for not just for this week but all year round.”

The match kicks off at 6.15pm, with admission costing a minimum £2 donation to SECE Mind.

And Reeves is looking forward to lining up alongside such a special group of people who hold fortnightly training sessions for those with mental health issues.

“Run Free is my second family and it’s given me a further purpose in life,” said Reeves.

“It allows me to release all of the negativity I’m feeling.

“I instantly connected with Run Free as football has always been my escape.

“I seem to forget my worries while I’m on the pitch, so to be able to have regular football guaranteed lifts a lot of weight off my shoulders.

“I look forward to each session like a child does Christmas.”

And Reeves also benefits from the support of those around him.

“The group is full of amazing people throughout who are all there for the same reason,” said Reeves.

“I’ve made lifelong friends from Run Free.

“The support doesn’t stop when training’s over, it continues when we meet outside of sessions, in messages, phone calls, the list is endless, one of the guys is always available, they are the unsung heroes in this world. In short, Run Free has saved me from myself.”

Run Free beat London Southend Airport in last year’s match between the two teams at Garon Park.

And the airport’s corporate and social responsibility manager Jo Marchetti is looking forward to the rematch.

She said: “Following the success of our event in 2023, we are excited to come together once again for a friendly yet competitive match in support of our valued charity partner, SECE Mind. We hope to see donations flying in on final approach.”