Aoife and Gemma both took part in a virtual Q&A session with City in the Community participants to celebrate the launch of a new mental health project.
The pair were able to talk to youngsters about how they cope with the pressures of professional football, as well as the techniques they have used to help stay positive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bonner, who joined a City in the Community Inspires session with teenagers from Falinge Park High School, said: “One thing I’ve actually started to do recently is keep diaries; one for life and one for training.
“I’ve found that writing things down does help me to feel in control, plan and fit things in which make me feel in good place both mentally and physically.”
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Mannion, who dialled into St.Joseph & St.Bede R.C. Primary School, was asked by one student what she does to help lift her mood when something bad happens.
“It’s all about the little things that make you feel joy,” she said. “Things which you can put into your day which you know make you feel happy.
“It’s about trying to stay positive, getting outside into the fresh air and keep staying connected with our friends so that you don’t get too upset or lose hope. Because everything has changed so much, sometimes it can be hard to be positive!”
When asked about how she manages the pressure of being a professional footballer, Mannion added: “It’s just like when you do schoolwork, not always are you going to get ten out of ten. You’re always going to have something to improve on and it’s OK to make mistakes.
“You grow resilience and grit from doing things again and again, trying to be positive and having the right attitude towards things with an intent to try and get better. We’re always going to make mistakes, we’re only human, but if you ask most of the team, they’d say they weren’t nearly as good 10 years ago as they are now because you just keep improving.”
One student from Falinge Park High School commented: “Gemma is a real positive role model who was honest, open and lovely! The messages she gave will allow and inspire us to move forward with confidence and achieve our best.”
The Q&A sessions followed on from the launch of City in the Community’s new mental health programme, which harnesses the power of football to help provide support for thousands of people aged 14 to 25.
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A dedicated team has developed a new mental health curriculum, blending specially adapted football sessions with one-to-one mentoring and group workshops on mental health awareness, to improve mental wellbeing.
Senior Operations Manager at City in the Community, Lisa McKay, said: “It was great to see Aoife and Gemma engage with our participants so openly and honestly. Mental health isn’t always an easy topic for young people to discuss, but to have Manchester City players sharing their own experiences within our new programme is a really powerful message.
“We look forward to continuing to deliver our new mental health curriculum across more programmes over the coming weeks and months.”
The programme forms part of the wide-ranging ‘Cityzens Giving for Recovery’ initiative, which aims to make a positive difference in response to the COVID-19 pandemic via targeted projects near each of City Football Group’s clubs.
In Manchester, the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s mental health was highlighted as a major concern amongst carers and parents.
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Since June, City Football Group has matched donations pound for pound from kind-hearted City fans and partners, so far raising more than £725,000 for recovery projects around the world.
City Football Group is continuing to match donations by fans until 30 June 2021* and hope to raise a total of £1 million, helping to support ten recovery-linked projects near each City Football Group club.
To find out more about Cityzens Giving for Recovery, visit: cityzensgiving.org.
*To a limit of £500,000 across all projects - see FAQs for more info https://www.globalgiving.org/city-group-faq/.