In October Coping Through Football hosted a tribute football tournament in memory of Eric Gyapong, a much-loved volunteer with the project who passed away earlier this year.
Eric had been a Volunteer Coaching Assistant and Befriender at Coping Through Football since 2012. He was really committed to the project and made time in his schedule to attend the group as often as he could. Even when he changed jobs, he still found time to fit it in. He would say ‘I need a regular dose of Coping Through Football’.
Eric had an abundance of positive energy and confidence which he shared with the group. He made good use of his communication skills to benefit others – and to make us laugh. Often the group members have lost their self-confidence and their self-esteem is greatly reduced. For those whose voices had been silenced by their mental health issues, Eric made sure to greet them and acknowledge their presence. He let them know they were not invisible, they were important. Eric would welcome new people as if they were old friends and made them feel welcomed and valued. During the session he would check they were OK, praise any effort they made and make sure that they would be coming back next week.
Eric came with the group to a Champions League event in Hyde Park where there was a raffle to win tickets for the Champions League Final at Wembley. Of course, Eric won some tickets!
The memorial tournament saw service users as well as Eric’s colleagues, friends and family join together to commemorate his life and his contribution to the project. Thanks to the generosity of Eric’s family and friends a sum of £1,100 has been raised for the project.