After working in an industry with very limited support, I want to encourage others to speak openly and honestly about their mental health
Cardiff born David Cotterill retired from professional football in 2017. He began his professional footballing career in 2004 at Bristol City before moving on to sign for Premier League Wigan Athletic.
He is a full Welsh international, making his debut against Azerbaijan in October 2005. David went on to play at several English clubs including Sheffield United, Swansea City and Birmingham City.
Former Wales international David Cotterill battled with mental health through most of his career. Now retired and recovered, he believes more could have been done to help him overcome his issues whilst still a player. Through the David Cotterill Foundation, he aims to educate and inspire communities to speak up, support each other and take action.
ONPAR are delighted to support the David Cotterill Foundation and hope that sports stars, in particular, feel inspired by David’s honesty. It has been suggested that footballers feel they can’t tell their manager about how they feel because it would jeopardise their place in the squad.
“Put it this way, if I went to a manager and said I’m struggling mentally, I need a break or I need a little bit of help, there’s no way he’s playing me on a Saturday or a Tuesday,”Cotterill says.
“He would say ‘he’s not mentally stable, he’s not mentally up for it’ – and my release was to go and play.” Cotterill also states that in football, bodily injuries are protected, such as knee, leg and feet, but then there is no protection against the brain, which is effectively the most important part of your body.
The foundation is available for anyone, not just sports stars, and now mental health discussions are becoming widely more accepted within the community. “Things are going in the right direction, the BBC programme with Prince William, Peter Crouch and Danny Rose was good. If people like them have a voice, then it will help a lot. There’s a really long way to go.”
David remembers times where he ‘didn’t want to face the world’. “There would be times when I finished training and I couldn’t wait to go and lie in bed. I’d be there for hours.” David has struggled with depression since being a teenager and turned to alcohol as a release. He still regularly attends AA meetings because they still help him with any struggles.
The David Cotterill foundation also provides mental health anonymous meetings where anybody is welcome. These are safe meeting places for people to come along and just listen or to share their feelings and experiences. The foundation is constantly fundraising and is trying to raise as much awareness as possible.
DCF Vision: Where bright minds can overcome adversity
DCF Mission: Educating and inspiring communities to speak up, support each other and take action.
“It’s my personal mission to help everyone realise that it’s braver to talk than to suffer in silence”