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Ex-Queens player opens up on stresses of football

Section:  Sport  | Tags: , , ,

A FORMER Queen of the South player has spoken out about mental health issues in football — describing what can be a highly competitive and potentially stressful environment.

HIGHLIGHTING ISSUE . . . David Weatherston

Former striker David Weatherston, 31, has described how depression and anxiety have affected him during his ongoing football career.

David spent three years at Palmerston from 2008-11, where he ‘loved’ playing but says his ‘underlying issues’ may have hindered his game during that time.

He said: “I spent three years at Queens, nearly the longest I spent at any club, and I loved playing there.

“There was clearly underlying issues during my time at the club.”

David spent most of his first season at Queens on the bench.

During that year his anxiety began to get worse, but he admits he did not seek support and help.

He said: “I was not aware of any support within football clubs, but I did not really try to find it.

“In football you are looking out for yourself and every week you are just wanting to play. “If somebody else has an issue or is having a problem, you just want to take their place.

“In my whole career I can think of only three or four players I might have been able to say something to without getting a negative response.

“It is a good place to have a laugh, but not to air any troubles you may have.”

David was released by Queens after three years, which he was left shocked about.

“I really struggled for a few weeks,” he said.

“I was without a team, but I thought I had been flying in pre-season for Queens.

“I took a few weeks off and went to Falkirk to train before they eventually signed me.”

Now, having finally let out his feelings after not telling anybody for so long, David feels he should have done it a long time ago.

He said: “I 100-per-cent feel I would have been a better player without that on my back.

“Nobody knew about this before last week, except from my wife, and it was the hardest thing ever to tell people. “After the response I have received, I feel much better.”

David has also offered words of advice to anybody in football that may be feeling the strain of mental health issues.

He said: “Parents can bring up children saying that they should become a professional footballer, which can add a lot of pressure.

“I did not feel pressure, just anxious in general.  The whole thing becomes embedded in you.

“If you are going through this, all I can say is find somebody you can speak to. Find a friend, parent or coach, just somebody you are comfortable with to discuss this and get it out.”

David currently plays in Norway.

Queen of the South have been invited to comment but have yet to do so.

However, a Scottish Football Association (SFA) spokesman said: “The health and mental well-being of professional footballers in Scotland is of paramount importance to the Scottish FA.

“Since 2016, thanks to funding from William Hill, and in partnership with PFA Scotland and the Hampden Sports Clinic, we have offered Support Within Sport, a project aimed at combating mental health issues in Scottish football.

“The programme provides access to a specialist support network of experienced doctors, counsellors and psychologists and is offered free of charge to clubs, players and coaches across the 42 clubs in the Scottish Professional Football League, the top two divisions in the Scottish Women’s Premier League and also to referees.”

*ANYONE seeking help can contact the Samaritans confidentially anytime on freephone number 116123.


NEWSDESK: 01461-202417

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