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Hodgson on caring for players' wellbeing and challenges of lockdown

26 January 2021

Roy Hodgson recently spoke with Premier League Productions about the significance of maintaining positive mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and how that affects both him and his role at the club.

As part of a Premier League series on positivity during the pandemic, Hodgson explained his views on the impact lockdown is having on the psychology of many Britons.

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He said: "I think everyone understands why things are happening. We understand the logic behind it, we understand the reason that the government has tried to make certain we are locked down in this way to prevent further spread of the virus, prevent deaths and to prevent our National Health Service from being overrun.

"All perfectly sensible things to do, but I would be walking around with my eyes closed if I didn't realise it was causing an awful lot of hardship for a lot of families.

"Being positive is a state of mind, of course. It’s very easy for people to say: ‘You've got to stay positive, you've got to be positive, and you've got to think positive.' Unfortunately, your mind doesn't always do the things that you want it to do.

"It's like people telling you not to think about things when something's bothering you. Unfortunately, you do think about things that are bothering you."

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The Crystal Palace manager then focused more specifically on football, and how mental health strains and concerns affect the job. He discussed the ways the sport has changed throughout his career and how his duty of care for the players comes into effect:

"I think things have changed. It's a long career and I can't say that I've fully been as aware as I should have been all the way through about the players' mental health and mental wellbeing. Certainly now we are much more aware of it.

"The one thing that I have always tried to do is to treat players not just as footballers but as human beings. I try and take into account what's happening in their lives because what's happening [personally] has an effect upon their job. You can't totally divorce football from the rest of your life.

"I've always been aware of that and I’ve always tried to put myself in players’ shoes if a decision is to be made. We try to think what the players would be thinking in any given moment in time."

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Finally, Hodgson revealed his approach to maintaining a positive mindset and balanced mental health, saying that he and others in football are in a privileged position:

"[Footballers and managers] are fortunate in the fact that we have a job to go to that we love doing. That in itself is something which helps keeps you positive and cheerful because every morning when you wake up, you're looking forward to going into work with people that you really enjoy being around. So that keeps us positive for a start.

"After that, I guess it is the same as everyone else – I try to enjoy the walks that you do for your exercise. Now I suppose I try to find something on the television, or a good book that will take my mind off football for a little while.

"Luckily, I did buy four or five [books] just before the shops shut down - they've certainly kept me going. Music is useful and I've always been interested in it. I've quite an eclectic taste. I can vary between soul and Motown and my classical music, depending on my mood.

"As far as TV is concerned, I'm like everybody else I guess. It's films or series that you get on the BBC when they do their drama series. Or more often these days, it's Netflix or Amazon Prime where you're trying to get hooked in some series that is the buzz series of the day."

For advice on caring for your mental health during the pandemic, please click here.

If you are struggling with your mental health, seek support from organisations like the Samaritans. Call for free on 116 123 - or click here for more information.

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