Who knew when I started at the South Gloucestershire and Stroud College that I would leave with so much more than grades. Because of my time there I can say I am employed by the BBC in Bristol and do the announcements at the Bristol City Women's home games which are played at the same college campus funnily enough.
I'm not writing this today to tell you about my time doing those things though. This is about the Vixens, the Bristol City WFC, and what they have achieved from being at that college campus too.
At the end of the last seasons they were relegated to the Women's Super League 2 (WSL2) which naturally is gutting and there is no way of sugar coating that. But when new manager Willie Kirk came in and there were more transfers than I can count on two hands, even during the later end of this season, the team managed to do something super!
They talk about Paralympians being Super humans but the Vixens have been Super Women's this season. Yes they are supported by Bristol Sport but they are technically a semi-professional team with most players still trying to juggle jobs and families alongside the football. Having not much funding and not as much time as some teams do it was always going to be a rocky road. But I like to think its quality over quantity and Willie's Women fit this definition well.
As the season went on they climbed the table to the top and stayed there. Only a season after relegation. Because when they got knocked down instead of feeling defeated they felt challenged and used that to get themselves right back to where they belong, at the top of the game.
The best way to look at it is that by being relegated they had time to take a step back and look at the full jigsaw, having time to change a few pieces to make sure the picture looked complete. This was timed to a tee as last night they were promoted back up to THE Women's Super League. Super Women back in the Super League. It doesn't get much more cliche than that but I just hope that they other teams are ready for the Vixens because this is definitely a group of girls who you can't judge by their cover. What the Lion cannot do the Fox can! Remember this!
It has been a privilege to do the announcements at their games, even on Valentines day, and have a chance to interview and befriend numerous players and staff members and I am really looking forward to coming forward with you all!
In the past week 1 in 6 people will have experienced a mental health "issue". Just as an example look around at the nearest 5 people to you and 1 of those, and then including yourself, would have experienced this. It could be any of you but you wouldn't know who because mental health "problems" are invisible.
I can think of so many quotes I could use because over the years I have sent many motivational quotes to friends who have been battling with a mental "illness". But for now ...
Who here likes Disney? I am hoping everybody reading this is saying yes to that question but even if you aren't bare with me because this will make sense (I hope).
So you might be thinking I am telling you conflicting information by saying a mental "illness" is invisible and then referring a film where the "problem" is very obvious. But my point here is, I guess, never to judge a book by its cover. Things aren't always as they seem. For Belle she accepted Adam for who he was despite what she could see. Whereas with a mental health "illness" you may see someone as being fine because they tell you "I'm okay" and you believe it. But are they really okay? Do they know that sometimes not being okay is okay? Be aware of this and make sure if you think someone isn't okay that you offer them an ear because a problem shared is a problem halved and it will most likely then be the first step to becoming themselves again.
From experience of helping those in that positions I know that if someone is struggling with a mental health "illness" they feel like they are burdening you. The labels given to this top never help. Mental "illness" and calling things a "problem" or an "issue". So if today, Mental Health Awareness Day, teaches you anything let it be the below quote:
'When "I" is replaced with "We"
even Illness becomes Wellness!'
All of what I have told you is based on the role I have had in peoples like as a friend or a mentor helping them face physical or mental challenges. So I may not be an expert but I have learnt more in my 20 years than some people have in a full lifetime. I know I am lucky because of that, which is exactly why I use it to help people in anyway I can. So trust me, if you're reading this and thinking you need a little nudge in the right direction just get in touch. I won't bite ... much! I want to make sure that everyone ends up like Belle and Adam and help make sure that they get as close as they can to their very own fairytale lives, living happily ever after!