Chris Mitchell

The dad of tragic Clyde footballer Chris Mitchell has praised Raith Rovers goalie Robbie Thomson for his foresight in forging a link with the foundation set up in his son’s honour.

Robbie Thomson's Pro Performance Academy Ltd has linked up with the Chris Mitchell Foundation to raise awareness around mental health in football. With Robbie (centre) are Blair Munn and Callum Tapping.

Mitchell took his own life aged 27 in 2016 – shortly after leaving Clyde – after suffering mental health difficulties.

Robbie’s Pro Performance Goalkeeping – run in Polmont in tandem with Pro Performance Academy, led by fellow footballers Callum Tapping and Blair Munn – will now teach its coaches mental health first aid training to try and effectively deal with any of its hundreds of young footballers who may be feeling depressed.

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This is a nod to the excellent work of the Chris Mitchell Foundation, which raises awareness of footballers’ mental health and is named in honour of the young footballer.

"I think this link-up is fantastic,” Chris’s dad Phillip said. “I think Robbie has had the foresight to see what we’re all about and he approached us. He was wanting to put a safeguard in place in his business, which is football-orientated.

"This is to safeguard kids and adults as well who he comes into contact with if they have mental health issues.

"There is still a big issue with mental health in Scotland and elsewhere in the world. There is still a stigma and a weakness and people won’t put their hands up.

"We have turned it round 180 degrees.

"We’ve got the people in places in football teams and they can approach a person, ask the right questions and put them on the path to professional help.”

Thomson said he wants the academy to be more than just planning for a training session.

"This partnership isn’t going to be that we’re going to cure mental health,” he said.

“It’s more to create more awareness around the stigma of mental health and help our coaches be better equipped for when scenarios do crop up where players in our academy are going through a tough time and we know how to deal with it better.”

He added: "There are certain things that need to be done on top of that but we can approach the situations a little better and offer better advice and hopefully get whoever’s struggling on a better path than they were before.”