On Thursday, West Bromwich Albion welcomed Prince William to their Walsall training ground as both parties promoted the FA’s ‘Heads Up’ campaign. The campaign uses the popularity of soccer in the U.K. to emphasize that mental health is just as important as physical health.
Upon the arrival he was greeted by chief executive Mark Jenkins, chairman Li Piyue and club captain Chris Brunt, and spoke with a number of first team players, youth team players and coaches about the effects of mental health in sport.
The club CEO then presented Prince William with two shirts for Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis with their names and ages in numbers on the back.
But conceded it may be too late to convert Prince George into a West Bromwich fan, giving him a soccer ball that was used in the warm-up of the team’s recent game instead. “This is for George. But I don’t think we’ve got a chance, have we?”
William laughed but responded that George would “love” his present. “The football … will go down extremely well,” William said, adding of Charlotte’s jersey, “I’ll see how she gets on with that!”
“She’ll definitely like the fact that there’s a Louis as well,” he continued. “I love it. That’s very kind of you guys, thank you very much”
During his visit, William joined the first team squad on the training pitch and quizzed them about the impact these challenges can often have upon their mental wellbeing. He joked with players and coaches, saying: “I’m sorry I’m here as an Aston Villa fan but I’m hoping we can move on from that.”
He went on to discuss his Heads Up campaign, which is aiming to break down the stigma of mental health in football.
It was a great morning talking #HeadsUp at @WBA especially when the team gifted die hard @AVFCOfficial fan, personalised shirts for Charlotte and Louis and a signed match ball for Prince George! @KensingtonRoyal | @FA | @theCALMZone pic.twitter.com/3cu1njp753— Heads Together (@heads_together) November 28, 2019
Prince William said: “The stats are bad about men and mental health, really bad.
“Girls are pretty good, but guys are really bad at talking about it.”
He added: “It’s also not just about the footballing community but about guys who are out there watching… trying to get guys to be a bit more open about it.”