Apprentices from Carlisle United are the latest to experience Colin Avery’s Playing Safely workshop which addresses sexual health, a long standing component of LFE’s Life Skills programme.
Two hours well spent in the main stand at Brunton Park provided facts, figures and crucial sexual health awareness. By nature, this is a topic of sensitivity and highlighting situations which apprentices may be exposed to is a task tactfully delivered by Colin Avery.
The session specifically covered sexually transmitted infections and diseases such as chlamydia and HIV, as well as consent, cancer, sexting, homophobia, stereotypes, porn, respect and stigmas.
Engagement levels were high throughout with group competition, practical activity with self-check apparatus and safe sex protection.
Second year apprentice Charlie Barnes told LFE: “It’s a bit more information about safer sex and things that you should and shouldn’t be doing. And how to be more protective of yourself and everyone around you.
“There’s a lot of chlamydia around my age of 16 to 18 years old, then when you get older it’s still common and so you must check and protect yourself as much as you can.”
The relevance to apprentice footballers is high on the agenda with no shortage of case studies. Examples used range from Sir Bobby Moore overcoming testicular cancer before lifting the World Cup in 1966 to more current England stars, highlighting the ever present risk to physical well-being.
Beyond the information, Colin accesses his network of contacts to arrange for a visiting screening team from the local NHS service to offer apprentices the opportunity to undertake a voluntary test.
The Cumbrian starlets handled the information professionally whilst taking opportunity to share thoughts and present to the group.
“We had to work as a team and think about these things together,” said Barnes. “With consent, it must be given and you’ll be alright but if not and someone doesn’t give it or can’t speak or move, it’s an obvious no.”
The programme continues to offer high impact in the moment but more importantly lifelong learning. The start point of safeguarding individuals from crisis progresses into the holistic development and self-awareness of apprentice footballers.
LFE Life Skills Manager Simon Williams added: “These are important messages for our apprentices whose sexual health is at highest risk being under 25. For engagement, it is crucial to present the subject with relevance to their development as a player and Colin is an expert in this area.
“These young men should now have an increased chance of maintaining their well-being beyond the pitch and as people.”