The FA have announced that this season's Emirates FA Cup final will be dedicated to Heads Up, with our lead partner Emirates donating their title to the campaign.
Heads Up is a partnership between Heads Together and The FA that harnesses the influence and popularity of football to change the conversation on mental health.
Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Hector Bellerin joined HRH The Duke of Cambridge on a Zoom call to announce the news, with the showpiece event provisionally scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 1.
Our stars chatted to Prince William about the importance of talking about mental health, as well as the significance of the FA Cup final being dedicated to the campaign.
They also discussed the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, the role football can play in tackling men's mental health and how we are supporting our coaching staff and players, including those at academy level, and the wider community.
Mikel Arteta said: "You have to create a safe environment for them to be able to talk to you directly without feeling judged, or [worrying] whether that's going to have consequences for them, whether they're going to play or not, or my feelings towards them.
"This is what I've been trying to do over the last 12 weeks, by trying to talk individually so they can raise those feelings, their issues, and we can build the club culture that I want, which is based on respect."
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added: "I think the most important thing is to be next to them, to try to speak a lot with them and to give them all the space they need for talking, because I think the best thing is to talk and to discuss problems."
On the renaming of The Emirates FA Cup, Mikel concluded: “This is a great gesture from Emirates to make a statement on the importance of mental health.”
During the call, The Duke said of the Heads Up FA Cup final: “We’re going to really use the final as a moment to promote good, positive mental health for everyone. It’s quite timely bearing in mind what we’ve all been through with this pandemic. I think there’s going to be, sadly, a lot of repercussions from this in society, not just in football, in terms of people’s mental health. Hopefully the FA Cup can be a bit of a pivot that people can rally around.”
Godric Smith, chair of the Heads Up campaign, said: “We are extremely grateful to The FA and to Emirates for this unprecedented gesture of support. Dedicating the final of football’s most iconic domestic cup competition to Heads Up is a huge statement about the importance of mental health and their commitment to it.
"Given the many different impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we talk about our mental health and help support one another, and The Heads Up FA Cup Final will hopefully generate many more of those conversations amongst fans and the football community.”
The season-long Heads Up campaign has been visible across all levels of football in England throughout the course of the 2019/20 season, and supports the important work which is already taking place across the UK to end the stigma surrounding mental health, and strives to raise awareness, spark conversation and signpost to support.
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