From 11th-15th June, Millwall Community Trust Mental Health team (Millwall Lions), in partnership with the South London and Maudsley NHS trust, took part in the EASI (European Association of Social Integration) Cup in Barnsley.
The EASI Cup is held annually and consists of a seven-a-side tournament and other sports including Table Tennis. The 2018 event was open to all Mental Health football teams.
With thanks to Millwall fans, MCT were able to reach their fundraising goal of £600 to support them with social activities and food throughout the week.
The long journey to Yorkshire was made 11th June with all in good spirits. After a five-hour journey the team arrived at Silverwood Scout Camp, where they were kindly put up free of charge.
The tournament got underway the next day with the Group Stage. The theme of the tournament was based on the FIFA 2018 World Cup currently taking place, with Millwall Lions drawn out as Iran.
The team kicked off with a 5-0 win over Salford B and followed that up with a thumping success of the same scoreline against Prague. A 3-0 victory over Amersfoort and a 4-0 win over Barnsley A ensured an easy passage to the top of the group.
Due to their excellent results Millwall Lions were put into the Gold Cup, where three wins and one defeat (0-2 v Afro Boys, 1-0 v Newcastle, 8-0 v Doncaster and 1-0 v Norway) ensured qualification for the Semi-Finals.
Everton were the opposition in the last four and there was where the run unfortunately ended with a 3-0 defeat.
"As a staff member it was amazing to see players become more confident and sociable as the trip progressed," said Trevor Wyer, Support Planner for Social Inclusion and Recovery Service, Lewisham. "It was a new experience for many and one I also thoroughly enjoyed. The tournament provided a great example of using sport and football as a tool to empower people with mental health issues - these were players that would not have considered this trip if it wasn't for football and most are often socially isolated. I firmly believe this trip has helped them enormously."
Ben Perryman, MCT's Disability Sport Development Officer, added: "For me as a coach it was fantastic to see the boys get all the way to a Semi-Final of a European tournament. I couldn't be more proud. The week was a good opportunity to get to know the boys a lot better."
An MCT Millwall Lions player said: "I had a great time in Barnsley, it was fun and there was good bonding between us as a group. I admit I was a bit nervous at the start of the tournament but my confidence grew as we started playing.
"To go go-karting was another fun experience. On Thursday I felt we performed well as a team, which was good to be a part of. Getting to the Semi-Finals out of 25 teams was brilliant, but the highlight for me was Jamie’s hat-trick! Coming away from the tournament with a medal and more sense of character has been really rewarding."