Graphic of Rugby League World Cup and Movember logos
the RLWC2021's Mental Fitness CharterImage by: RLWC2021
Graphic of Rugby League World Cup and Movember logos
30 June 2022

Movember’s mental fitness workshops impact thousands of young people across the north of England

3 minutes read time

Movember’s trailblazing Ahead of The Game (AoTG) programme has made a positive impact on the wellbeing of thousands of people across some of the most socially deprived communities in England, according to an independent report.

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021)’s interim Social Impact Report was launched today by Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

The key findings of the report revealed that out of almost 4,000 young athletes who have taken part in one of Movember’s one-hour mental fitness workshops, 92% agreed or that they felt more confident in recognising the signs of mental health conditions in themselves and others.

Most athletes (95%) who had attended a Challenge Workshop agreed that thinking positive thoughts could help them overcome challenges

And 96% of the 383 sports coaches who attended a Know Your Players workshop agreed that they felt better able to respond to the mental health challenges of their young athletes.

Paul Williams, Movember’s Program Implementation Director for Ahead of The Game, says: “The Rugby League World Cup 2021 set out an ambition to be bold and brave. And we need to be bold and brave because globally, one man dies of suicide every minute, of every day - that’s more than 525,000 men dying too young each year. In the UK, 3 out of 4 suicides are men.

“Movember’s mental health and suicide prevention programmes are helping men stay mentally well, socially connected, have meaningful conversations, so they can take action if times get tough. The findings of this report show the true extent of the positive impact Ahead of The Game is making on the lives of young people.”

" 92% agreed or that they felt more confident in recognising the signs of mental health conditions in themselves and others. "

Launched by the Duke of Sussex in January 2020, the RLWC2021 is the first international sporting tournament in the world to have a Mental Fitness Charter as part of its Social Impact programme.

As the tournament’s official delivery partner, Movember, along with Rugby League Cares, is responsible for funding and delivering a series of mental fitness workshops to 8,000 teenage rugby players, their parents, and sports coaches.

Despite lockdown restrictions caused by the pandemic, between November 2019 and March 2022, a total of 271 workshops have been delivered across 114 community and professional clubs, schools and other venues as well as online, reaching over 4,000 young athletes and nearly 400 coaches.

Former and current rugby league players including Keith Senior, Paul Wood, Robbie Hunter-Paul and Amy Hardcastle, were trained as workshop facilitators to encourage uptake by young athletes.

Nadine Dorries MP says: “We know that some of the towns and cities that will host Rugby League World Cup 2021 matches are among those hardest hit by the pandemic and increases in the cost of living. The findings of this report highlight the positive impact that he Rugby League World Cup has already had. It is a shining example of a major sporting event that has made a tangible difference to a huge number of people.”

Zach from Oldham talks about the impact the pandemic had on his mental health.

Rugby League World Cup 2021 Chief Executive Jon Dutton says: “I am very proud of all that we have accomplished so far. I am incredibly excited to see what else we can deliver in the next few months and through the tournament itself.

“Working in partnership with organisations like Movember, Community Integrated Care and UNICEF UK has been crucial in enabling RLWC2021 to reach a far wider and diverse audience than otherwise would have been possible and thereby delivering maximum returns from the Social Impact Programme.”

The Ahead of The Game documentary tells the story of how we’re working with Rugby League Cares and some of the rugby league’s biggest stars to deliver mental fitness workshops to thousands of young people across the north of England. Watch online here.