Prince William opened up on the importance of having a support network and being able to rely on friends when facing a difficult period. The Prince of Wales took part in a candid chat about football and mental health with England players Harry Kane and Declan Rice.
During a discussion led by host Kelvyn Quagraine, the royal guest in the special episode of COPA90’s Game of 5s released on Monday recalled how he fell in love with football when he was in school and how many friendships were forged while playing in teams.
These friendships, he said, become very important later in life when facing struggles, disappointment or heartbreak.
He said: “Some of the greatest friendships are born from playing games and being pushed together through adversities.
“And I definitely got loads of friends whose relationship started off in a team, fighting for each other and wanting to do the best for each other and the team, so it’s really important that we have those moments, those people in life, that give us that support.
“Because there is going to be plenty of times when it’s not okay and in those moments you can say listen, let’s have a beer, let’s sit down and chat or let’s have a cup of tea and have a natter about it because I’ve got something on my chest, or I am bothered by this or maybe things didn’t quite go as you hoped, and having those people in life is really important.”
Later during the programme, the heir to the throne also said everyone needs a support system to rely on when life gets difficult.
After listening to Mr Kane and Mr Rice speaking about some difficult moments in their lives and careers, he said: “But also how important support structures are for you there.
“That moment of rejection, you got your dad putting your arm around you or you’ve got people around.
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“It must be very difficult for people who don’t have that support network around to kind of know who to lean on. We all need it, in all walks of life.
“It’s so important we have got those support networks to catch us when we are down.”
This COPA90 special programme is part of the Prince of Wales’ long-term commitment to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health, helping people feel comfortable voice their struggles and informing about the support systems available to everybody.
During the 25-minute-long conversation, the royal spoke about SHOUT 85258, Britain’s only free 24/7 text messaging service available to people who are experiencing a crisis.
This service was launched in May 2019 by the Prince and Princess of Wales in partnership with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – who at the time were still working members of the Firm.
Kate and Prince William also launched Heads Together with Prince Harry in 2016, an initiative which aimed at ensuring people feel comfortable with their own and their friends and family’s everyday mental health and wellbeing.
The Prince of Wales also spearheaded the launch of Heads Up in 2019, a collaboration between Heads Together and the Football Association striving to show the country that physical and mental health are equally important.
Heads Up ran through the whole Premier League calendar that year and was targeting in particular men, encouraging them to feel more comfortable opening up whenever facing difficult times.
Most recently, the Prince and Princess of Wales took over BBC’s Newsbeat to lead a discussion on the importance of mental health, focusing their attention in particular on younger generations.
During the programme, William asked an expert to speak about the “toolbox” needed to react to difficult or traumatic situations.
He said: “A lot of the work we’ve done on mental health and listening to lots of people talk about it, everyone likes a toolbox – particularly men. A toolbox is quite a useful analogy to kind of use.
“A lot of people don’t realise what they need until it actually comes along. You can be living one life one minute and something massively changes and you realise you don’t necessarily have the tools or the experience to be able to tackle that.”