Prince William says he believes the coronavirus pandemic will have huge repercussions for the nation’s mental health – but hopes that the return of football will offer something for people to ‘rally around’.
The future king, 37, spoke via video link to Arsenal football manager Mikel Arteta and some of his staff and players on Tuesday as it was announced this year’s Emirates FA Cup Final will be renamed the ‘Heads Up FA Cup Final,’ in honour of the mental health campaign he had been spearheading.
The Duke of Cambridge told how he believes the coronavirus outbreak, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and left many people isolated by the lockdown, will cause psychological problems in the future.
During the video call, Prince William said: ‘I’m really pleased that you guys are all coming back to football soon.
The Duke of Cambridge, 38, warned that society faces mental health ‘repercussions’ from Covid-19 during a video call with Arsenal players and staff. Pictured, top row left to right: Manager Mikel Arteta, players Hector Bellerin and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Academy Manager, Per Mertesacker
‘And, as you can see behind me, I’ve got the FA Cup, it’s going to be named the Heads Up FA Cup – which is great news. So we’re going to really use the final as a moment to promote good, positive mental health for everyone.’
The duke, who is president of the FA and an avid Aston Villa fan, added: ‘It’s quite timely bearing in mind what we’ve all been through with this pandemic.
‘I think there’s going to be, sadly, a lot of repercussions from this in society, not just in football, in terms of people’s mental health. Hopefully the FA Cup can be a bit of a pivot that people can rally around.’
The group also discussed how Arsenal is supporting coaching staff and players, including those at the academy level, as well as the wider football community.
It comes after Prince William fronted a mental health documentary which aired on the BBC. It saw the royal speak to managers including Frank Lampard, right
Arteta, who contracted Covid-19, said of players’ mental health during coronavirus: ‘You have to create a safe environment for them to be able to talk to you directly without feeling judged, or (worrying) whether that’s going to have consequences for them, whether they’re going to play or not, or my feelings towards them.
‘This is what I’ve been trying to do over the last 12 weeks, by trying to talk individually so they can raise those feelings, their issues, and we can build the club culture that I want, which is based on respect.’
On supporting team-mates with their mental health, Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang commented:
‘I think the most important thing is to be next to them, to try to speak a lot with them, to give them all the space they need for talking, because I think the best thing is to talk, and to discuss problems.’
Cameras followed the Duke of Cambridge over the course of the year as he met with fans, players and managers to discuss the issue. Pictured, Prince William at an event last year
Premier League football is due to return later this month after being suspended because of Covid-19, and the FA Cup Final is provisionally scheduled to take place on August 1.
Heads Up is a partnership between William’s ongoing mental health campaign Heads Together and the FA and is a season-long initiative that was launched at the FA Community Shield last year.
Godric Smith, chairman of the Heads Up campaign, said: ‘Given the many different impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we talk about our mental health and help support one another.
‘The Heads Up FA Cup Final will hopefully generate many more of those conversations amongst fans and the football community.’