Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

O’Donovan Rossa looks to Inspire ‘Healthy Minds’ with new mental health programme

August 13th, 2021

Minister for Communities, Deidre Hargey MLA, joins Richard Gowdy, captain of O’Donovan Rossa’s Senior Football Team, and Chief Executive of Inspire, Kerry Anthony, at The Dub training pitches.

Leading mental health charity, Inspire, has partnered with west Belfast club, O’Donovan Rossa GAC, to provide mental health awareness training to the club.

The Healthy Minds programme aims at providing information, skills and advice on key areas of mental wellbeing including nutrition, mindful breathing, the importance of sleep and addiction awareness. These topics were chosen by the senior team players as important  issues that impact on their wellbeing and on field performance.

To mark the establishment of the Health Minds programme, O’Donovan Rossa has unveiled the new team shirt with the Inspire logo to encourage more GAA players to look after their mental health and promote resilience within the sport. The new jerseys will be worn for all of the 2021 Championship games.

Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey said:

“I want to commend O’Donovan Rossa GAC and Inspire on this project. This is a grass roots player led initiative aiming to break down barriers of stigma and to create a positive focus on mental wellbeing as well as physical. Rossa players have shown leadership in their club as well as their community and demonstrated by example that mental health issues can affect anyone.”

Kerry Anthony, Chief Executive of Inspire said:

“The Healthy Minds programme has been a fantastic initiative which has allowed the senior players of O’Donovan Rossa to learn about the best ways to deal with mental health issues, along with the pressures that come with playing in high level team sports.

“Often, the focus will be on the physical health of players. However, to be resilient and ensure that their head is the in the game, the mental wellbeing of players must also be considered. It is not easy to talk about mental health, and the players are a real testament to both their club and their local communities for standing up and learning how best to be mentally well.

“Everyone at Inspire is very proud that O’Donovan Rossa will have our logo on their jersey and we wish them the best of luck for the championship.”

Richard Gowdy, O’Donovan Rossa Senior Football Captain said:

“It has been really beneficial for myself and all my teammates to be part of the Healthy Minds programme and work with Inspire on mental health issues that are important to us as players and teammates.

“The Health Minds programme has really opened our eyes to how being mentally fit can help make us more resilient and competent players, while also making sure we are all in good headspaces on and off the pitch.

“There is still a stigma around talking about your mental health in sport. However, through our work with Inspire, we feel that it is key to break down those barriers and make sure all involved in GAA know the importance of mental health awareness – for themselves and their teams. It will help us all get to the top of our game.”

Maura McMenamin, Community, Health & Wellbeing Manager, Ulster GAA said:

“Congratulations to O’Donovan Rossa on their Healthy Minds Programme. The mental and emotional wellbeing of our members is of paramount importance; and I’m delighted to see O’ Donovan Rossa make this a core part of their club activities.


“We would also like to congratulate Inspire on this fantastic initiative, and whom Ulster GAA have partnered with on a number of mental health programmes. I look forward to launching our emotional wellbeing winter programme with Inspire later this year.”

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