introduction – Academy player care

We want all our players, whatever their age or stage of their journey, to be ambassadors for Grimsby Town Football Club.

We want Mariners supporters to know that they can rely on the players they come to admire to live up to high standards of behaviour, maturity and integrity.

To achieve this, we provide a varied programme of life skills, learning and additional support beyond the technical and tactical demands of football – this forms the basis of our mental and emotional health wellbeing and player care programme.

Each year the Academy Management Team review its approach to mental and emotional health alongside player-care and our life skills program. We identify workshops and seminars that will be delivered to the players, parents and staff from U9s, U18s and U23s.

The sessions are aimed at ensuring the holistic development of all stakeholders at the club.

To date we have delivered sessions on Social Media, Mental Health, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Anti-Doping, Nutrition and Cookery, and Psychology.

We hope that players, parents and carers, and staff will find the information contained in this section of the website to be a valuable source of information.

Should you wish to make a referral regarding player mental and emotional wellbeing please contact:  

Oliver Cowling

Education and Player Care Manager

What is Concussion?

Concussion is an injury to the brain, which results in a disturbance of its function. There are many symptoms of concussion, common ones being headache, dizziness, memory disturbance or balance problems.

What causes it?

Concussion can be caused by a direct blow to the head, but can also occur when a blow to another part of the body results in rapid movement of the brain, e.g. whiplash type injuries.

Onset of symptoms

The symptoms of concussion typically appear immediately, but their onset may be delayed and can appear at any time after the initial injury

It’s important to remember that loss of consciousness doesn’t always occur in concussion – in fact, it occurs in less than 10% of cases. Because of this, a concussed player may not have fallen to the ground after the injury, they could still be standing.

Who’s at risk?

Concussions can happen to players at any age. However, children and adolescents (18 and under) are more susceptible to brain injury. They also:

  • take longer to recover;
  • have more significant memory and mental processing issues;
  • are more susceptible to rare and dangerous neurological complications, including death caused by a single or second impact.

Other risk factors include having had previous concussions (which also increases recovery time) and being female.

How to recognise concussion

If any of the following signs or symptoms are present after an injury, you should suspect that a player has a concussion and remove them from play or training immediately – with no return on the same day.

Signs of concussion – what you might see

Any one or more of the following visual clues can indicate a concussion:

  • Dazed, blank or vacant look
  • Lying motionless on ground / slow to get up
  • Unsteady on feet / balance problems or falling over / poor coordination
  • Loss of consciousness or responsiveness
  • Confused / not aware of play or events
  • Grabbing / clutching of head
  • Seizure (fits)
  • More emotional / irritable than normal for that person

Symptoms of concussion – what the injured player might talk about

  • Presence of any one or more of the following symptoms may suggest a concussion:
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Mental clouding, confusion, or feeling slowed down
  • Visual problems
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness / feeling like ‘in a fog’ / difficulty concentrating
  • ‘Pressure in head’
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Speaking to the player

To help establish whether a player is injured, you can ask them a number of questions: incorrect answer(s) may suggest that they have a concussion. Some examples questions can be seen below – tailor them to your particular activity and even:

  • What venue are we at today / where are we now?
  • Which half is it now / approximately what time of day is it?
  • Who scored last in this game /how did you get here today?
  • What team did you play last game / where were you on this day last week?
  • Did your team win the last game / what were you doing this time last week?

What to do next

Anyone with a suspected concussion must be immediately removed from play.

Once safely removed from play they must not be returned to activity that day.

Teammates, coaches, match officials, team managers, administrators or parents who suspect someone may have concussion must do their best to ensure that they are removed in a safe manner.

If a neck injury is suspected, suitable guidelines regarding the management of this type of injury at pitchside should also be followed.

If any of the following are reported then the player should be transported for urgent medical assessment at the nearest hospital emergency department:

  • Severe neck pain
  • Deteriorating consciousness (more drowsy)
  • Increasing confusion or irritability
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Unusual behaviour change
  • Seizure (fit)
  • Double vision
  • Weakness or tingling / burning in arms or legs

In all cases of suspected concussion it’s recommended that the player is referred to a medical or healthcare professional for diagnosis and advice, even if the symptoms resolve.

The FA has launched ‘Concussion for players: lessons from the pitch’ – a film aimed at raising awareness among players about the importance of recognising and responding to symptoms of concussion.

Click here to watch film “Concussion for Players”

Useful resources

The FA Concussion Guidelines

Athletes & Drugs

Professional sportspeople in any sport can fall victim to addiction for a number of reasons, it doesn’t just happen to those who are perceived to have more successful careers and it doesn’t just happen to those for whom maintaining their professional status is a constant battle. It doesn’t just happen to men, it doesn’t just happen to sportspeople from certain socio-economic backgrounds and it doesn’t just happen to those who may have embraced the party lifestyle away from the sporting arena.

There are sufferers of addictive disorders in every walk of life outside sport and athletes are ultimately just the same. They’re as susceptible to addiction as anyone else, and a high level of physical prowess and athleticism doesn’t make them any more resistant to addiction.

Anyone can become an alcoholic or a drug addict, due to factors that may have absolutely nothing at all to do with their profession.

Athletes are, however, at a heightened risk of exposure to drug use. They may be prescribed substances to manage pain or to help them recover from injury, they may feel pressure to take substances to improve their performance, they may succumb to the temptations and pressures of attention from others that frequently comes with the job. This is before we even consider the impact of transition from a playing career into the ‘real world’ which some sportspeople can find is eased by alcohol, gambling and, yes – a wide variety of illegal and non-prescribed prescription drugs.

Drug use can frequently evolve into drug abuse, it often just needs time and any number of readily available extenuating circumstances in order to develop. There are actually a number of paths and substances people can fall into through professional sport, many of them geared towards improving performance or recovering from injury (

The use of banned substances, particularly performance-enhancing drugs, and other doping behaviour can severely damage the legitimacy of football and undermines the integrity of clean footballers.

All footballers have the right to play football knowing that they, their team-mates and the opposition, have not been using banned substances (which are referred to as “Prohibited Substances” in the Anti-Doping Regulations). The FA supports drug free football and works in partnership with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) to ensure that the integrity of football is protected.

The FA’s Anti-Doping Regulations are consistent with the World Anti-Doping Code (2015 Code), which governs anti-doping internationally.

As well as checking with club staff, players can contact a number of organisations for advice and guidance.

The Football Association (The FA)
Visit The FA website for more information on the FA’s Anti-Doping programme, including information on Testing, Education and Whereabouts. Also available are videos of the drug testing procedures and copies of The FA’s latest educational resources.

Website: doping
Tel: 0800 169 1863

Check Medications at GlobalDRO
The Global Drug Reference Online (Global DRO) provides athletes and support personnel with information about the prohibited status of specific medications based on the current World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

Products can be searched for by ingredient and/or brand name.

Sports Supplements Certification | Informed Sport (
Informed Sport is a risk minimisation programme, which batch tests supplements for substances that are prohibited within sport.

Reduce the risk of testing positive, visit for more information.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
WADA is an international independent agency composed and funded equally by the sport movement and governments of the world. Its key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti Doping Code (Code)

Check the prohibited List details for the substances and methods that are banned in football. As a player you should ensure you know what is included on the list, which can be found at the WADA website.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD)
UKAD is an active participant in the global fight against doping in sport – and is the national body responsible for creating a UK-wide environment of confidence in clean sport. Whether that is in competition, training or spectating. In the UK, UKAD make sure sports bodies comply with the World Anti-Doping Code through implementation and management of the UK’s National Anti-Doping Policy. Visit

Find out everything you need to know about drugs, their effects and the law. Talk to Frank for facts, support and advice on drugs and alcohol.

Text: 82111
Tel: 0300 123 6600

Sporting Chance Clinic
If you feel you have lost the ability to make an informed choice about drug use, pick up the phone and ask for the help that you need. With Sporting Chance you will never be judged and you will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Tel: 0870 2200714

Useful resources

Education and Resources (




Good mental health is vital for peak performance in sport. Mental health problems affect one in six of the population at any one time. Depression alone affects up to half of us during our lifetimes and affects every family at some stage. Despite this, many people are unaware of the symptoms of mental health problems.

Unsurprisingly, players known for physical fitness rarely talk about mental distress. Indeed many may not recognise what it is or know how to seek help for stress, anxiety or depression when it strikes.

The Sporting Chance Clinic, founded by Tony Adams, the former England captain who has written and talked about his own struggle with mental ill health and alcohol dependency – was set up to support sportsmen and women who experience similar problems and need professional help to overcome them.

Football is the beautiful game but it is also a tough game that makes huge demands on its players, it is important to remember that professional players are human beings not machines (Clark Carlisle).


The PFA has a 24/7/365 counselling telephone helpline service available to members.

In addition to the helpline, players past and present can access a national network of 90 fully-trained counsellors, all of whom understand the emotional roller-coaster that involvement in professional sport can entail.

The Union continues to offer support and funding to the Sporting Chance Clinic, allowing PFA members to receive residential treatment there.

The combination of these services offers current and former members a dedicated team of people and a safe and confidential environment to receive support and counselling.

The PFA Safety Net, is a place where you can get individual help and advice. It contains information regarding issues that people and players in particular, may have difficulty with from time to time.

You may be facing these same issues, register and log in to find out what some of these issues are. For confidential support, use the telephone number provided or the email facility (PFA Confidential Support) and somebody will contact you.



Tel: 07500 000 777

The FA

The FA, along with other bodies in both football and sport, has signed the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation, which is a framework setting out how sport can use its collective power to tackle mental ill-health and the stigma that surrounds it.


The charter aims to tackle stigma using the power of sport and recreation, emphasise the benefits to mental health and well-being of an active lifestyle and to encourage the wider sector to showcase best practice and to make real progress in tackling issues around mental health. The FA continues to work collaboratively with a number of organisations in this field.

One in four people experience a mental health problem in any year, which mean there are millions of people involved in grassroots football experiencing a form of it in some way. It is important football clubs at all levels appreciate this and know how to include people with mental health issues. The FA, along with its partners across the game, is encouraging players, coaches and officials to be confident and comfortable talking about mental health in the same way that people discuss physical injuries.

Mental health and well-being – Inclusion and anti-discrimination | The Football Association

Link: Useful Resources –

Crisis Support

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or are concerned for someone else:

  • Call 999
  • Contact Local NHS Crisis Team – North East Lincolnshire Single Point of Access Team on 01472 256 256 opt 3 for mental health (24/7).
  • Call the Samaritans on 116 123
  • For a list of International Emergency Numbers and Suicide Helpline’s visit:


Sporting Chance Clinic

The overwhelming majority of people experience greater levels of stress during key life events. Moving home, births, deaths, illness, marriage and divorce are all examples of this.

This is equally true during significant developments throughout a sporting career: being released from a club, getting dropped or injured long term, suffering relegation or a chronic loss of form that lasts from one tournament to the next, the negative press coverage linked to you or your team. These are all times when stress levels increase. As people in the ‘public-eye’, sportspeople are more vulnerable to attack.

  • Visit:
  • Email:
  • Tel: 0870 2200714


Open Minds:

Care and support for people aged 16+ experiencing common mental health problems such as stress, depression and anxiety : Tel: 01472 625100



Kooth is a free online service offering emotional and mental health support for children and young people. Access via



If you are concerned about the welfare of a child 0808 800 5000 or


Young People Support Service YPSS Grimsby

Counselling and Therapy for young people aged 4 – 25 Tel: 01472 32694



Confidential advice and help for people with mental health problems Tel: 0300 1233393 or text 86463


Rethink Mental Health

Expert, accredited advice and information for anyone affected by mental health problems. 10am – 2pm Monday – Friday (local rate) Tel: 0300 5000 927



Support, Information and Advice on bullying, gangs, puberty, sexual abuse, alcohol, drugs or anything else that worries you as an individual.

24/7 or Tel: 08001111


North East Lincolnshire Council Wellbeing Services

The service aims to help you to address some of the barriers preventing you from living a happy and healthy life. The service is free and offers a confidential service to support you with setting out targets and planning strategies to achieve them. To access the service call (01472) 325 500 or visit their wellbeing page on


Heads Together is a mental health initiative spearheaded by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which combines a campaign to tackle stigma and change the conversation on mental health with fundraising for a series of innovative new mental health services.

Heads Together | Join the conversation | Mental Health

Life skills training is provided for Academy players, to support players to develop skills to become self-sufficient and independent, in both their general lives and in dealing with the specific demands of being a professional footballer.

The Academy incorporates life skills training into all the work we do, specifically focusing on: Social skills, discipline, respect, personal control, organisation and leadership. These skills are incorporated into the football and coaching curriculum and are supplemented by a comprehensive programme of lifestyle seminars, workshops and experiences.

Currently the range of seminars and workshops delivered include: Equality, diversity and inclusion, nutrition, concussion awareness, mental and emotional wellbeing, careers advice, psychology, financial management, use of social media, anti-doping, gambling, corruption and integrity.

League Football Education – Personal Development and ‘Life skills’

League Football Education defines life skills as the competencies that enable people to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. LFE’s life skills strategy sets out to provide a programme of online delivery and face-to-face delivery, covering a range of identified subjects belonging to seven set aspects of well-being

The Duty of Care in Sport (2016), an independent report to government, led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson identifies that “Participants are at the heart of sport, and it can be valuable to get their unique perspective on decisions and issues. The UK Sport and Sport England governance code stresses the importance of identifying, listening to and meaningfully considering the views of stakeholders, and athletes are obviously an important group that need to be considered in this context”.

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) enshrines the right of all children and young people to say what they think should happen and to have their opinions taken into account when adults are making decisions that affect them.

The Academy Participant Voice Strategy has been developed to ensure that players have the opportunity to be involved, to know they are listened to and that their views are valued.

The Academy Player Voice Strategy includes:

  • 12 weekly Player and Parent Council forums;
  • Annual Player and Parent Voice Surveys;
  • Wellbeing Questionnaires;
  • Player participation through the 6/12 weekly player reviews and bi-annual assessments;
  • Player participation in the process of setting / developing their own Individual Development Plans (ILP’s);
  • Staff at the Academy value the importance of encouraging player involvement, decision making and ensuring that players are listened to and that their views are valued.

Useful resources



That might seem a bold claim. But we know it is true. Just look at how football steps up when times are tough. It provides education and empowerment, escapism and enjoyment. Promoting health and well-being, and the power of teamwork. And with our new strategy for 2020-2024, we have a plan for all. Positively impacting every community across the country. Everyone can win if we build on the progress made over the previous four seasons.


The EFL is committed to ensuring that football is inclusive of all communities and free from discrimination. We are dedicated to promoting equality on the grounds of any protected characteristic as defined in the Equality Act 2010–anti-discrimination/

Kick it Out

Kick It Out is English football’s equality and inclusion organisation.

Working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change, Kick It Out is at the heart of the fight against discrimination for everyone who plays, watches or works in football.

A small independent charity, the ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’ campaign was established in 1993 in response to widespread calls from clubs, players and fans to tackle racist attitudes existing within the game. Kick It Out was then established as a body in 1997 as it widened out its objectives to cover all aspects of discrimination, inequality and exclusion.

Internationally, Kick It Out has close links to FARE Network, and has been cited as an example of good practice by the Council of Europe, the European Commission, European parliamentarians and the British Council.

Level Playing Field

Promoting a positive, inclusive experience for disabled sports fans.

We believe that attending and engaging with live sporting events has a positive impact on wellbeing. We work at every level to ensure that disabled fans can freely access and enjoy live sport

Pride in Football

It’s estimated that around 6% of the population are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans; in football terms that’s more than 2000 LGBT fans at an average Premier League game or 5000 at Wembley. And yet more needs to be done to curb the homophobic abuse regularly heard in English and Welsh Football stadia, or to make LGBT supporters feel welcome.

From 2013 onwards, supporters at a range of clubs took the initiative and set up LGBT fan groups to establish a dialogue with their own clubs to improve their matchday experience – focusing on improvements in areas such as Steward Training, Incident Reporting and Signage as well as generally promoting the visibility of their clubs’ LGBT fan-base via Banners displayed at grounds or club presence on Pride Parades for example.

Pride in Football wants to share Good Practice, help new groups form and represent needs and views to Football administrators and others.


We’re here to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they’re not alone.

We believe we’re stronger united, so we partner with organisations that help us create real change for the better. We have laid deep foundations across Britain – in some of our greatest institutions – so our communities can continue to find ways to flourish, and individuals can reach their full potential. We’re here to support those who can’t yet be themselves.

If you are worried about a child, it’s vital you report your concerns. Doing nothing is not an option. It’s also important you stay calm, and if any child is present, reassure them they are not to blame. But don’t make promises of confidentiality or outcome.

There are five ways to report a concern:

  1. To your club or league Designated Safeguarding Officer
  2. To your County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer.
  3. By emailing The FA Safeguarding Team at;
  4. If urgent and you cannot contact your club, league or County FA Designated Safeguarding Officer, you can contact the NSPCC Helpline for expert advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or;
  5. If it is an emergency because a child or children are at immediate risk, then call the Police (999 or 111) or Children’s Social Care in your area.

Lincolnshire County FA Safeguarding:

Sarah Pridmore
Lincs FA Designated Safeguarding Officer
(E) /
(T) 01522 596583
(M) 07973 666778

GTFC Lead Safeguarding

Pete Macleod
07498 926776

GTFC Academy Safeguarding

Oliver Cowling

Academy DSO


Useful Safeguarding Links:

Safeguarding & Welfare – Lincolnshire FA

The EFL Youth Development Department works with Academies to maintain and enhance good practice, particularly in the years between and the build up to the independent assessment.

The department also provides help, guidance and assistance to players and parents and works closely with other organisations, particularly the Premier League and Football Association, to further the youth development system.

Youth Development Academy Players and Parents Handbook 2023/24, CLICK HERE.

Direct support to Clubs is provided by a team of Regional Managers whose work is centrally coordinated.


In 2012 the English professional game adopted the processes, principles and criteria of the Elite Player Performance Plan with the aim of creating a world leading Academy system.

The fundamental principles of the EPPP include increasing the number and quality of Home Grown Players, creating more time for players to play and be coached and improving coaching provision. There is now also a substantial focus upon “Player Care”, including Safeguarding and Education, within the Academy system.

A system of measurement and quality assurance has been established whereby Academies are independently assessed with resultant recommendations determining the category status awarded to each Academy.

There are 4 categories of Academy. Category 1 to 3 Academies register players from the U9 age group through to professionals whereas the Category 4 model is a late development model operating from the U17 age group upwards. Category 1 is the highest status of Academy.

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