Newtowabbey football club funds new defibrillator in Mallusk

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Players from a Mallusk-based football club, established in 2022 to help support positive mental health, have raised funds to provide a defibrillator for the Antrim Road area of the village.

Mallusk FC was set up to provide men aged 35 and over with assistance with challenges that come their way.

Having played in a Sunday league pyramid against teams with a similar ethos from across Belfast, Lisburn and Lurgan since their formation, the over 35s team has secured back-to-back promotions over the past two seasons and will be playing in the top flight for the 2024/25 campaign.

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As well as excelling on the pitch, the players have also been backing worthy causes, raising over £4,000 in the process.

Ryan Duffy pictured at the Crown and Shamrock in Mallusk following the installation of a new community defibrillator. (Pic: Contributed).Ryan Duffy pictured at the Crown and Shamrock in Mallusk following the installation of a new community defibrillator. (Pic: Contributed).
Ryan Duffy pictured at the Crown and Shamrock in Mallusk following the installation of a new community defibrillator. (Pic: Contributed).

The over 35s player/manager, Ryan Duffy explained: “I helped form the team two years ago. I’d moved to the area and had played football and organised a cross-community league on the north coast and I wanted to get involved again.

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"I started playing with Lisburn Distillery’s over 35s team, but felt there was a need to have a club closer to home and that’s where the idea came from. There wasn’t a Mallusk-based team anymore and we were having to turn people away at the start because there was that much interest. We started with an over 35s team and now also field an over 40s team with 50 players on the club’s books.

"Our main objective is to promote positive mental health and be there for anyone who needs a bit of support. We back the work of Lisburn-based Emerge Counselling Services and compete in the Emerge Invitational League. We’ve won back-to-back promotions and will be in the Premiership next season.

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"The club setup is relaxed, with games every fortnight. If players can’t make it on a matchday, there are no issues. If someone hasn’t been to a couple of games in a row, I’ll contact them to check everything is okay.

"We don’t hold training sessions, with players doing fitness in their own time. It’s flexible as we know people have other commitments.

"The club’s there to help the guys take their minds off every day problems. My brother passed away suddenly and my grandson passed away shortly after. Being a part of the team has helped me with my own problems.

"Players have said how the club has helped bring them out of dark places, whether they’ve been experiencing poor mental health due to losing their jobs, relationship issues or financial struggles.

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“We’re more than just about playing football. We go for walks and host social events and operate WhatsApp chats so we can keep in touch.”

The club, which plays its home matches at the City of Belfast Playing Fields, has also supported a number of charitable organisations.

Ryan added: “We’ve raised around £4,500 in total. This has supported the work of Emerge Counselling Services, provided a defibrillator for Avenge CrossFit, backed Depaul homeless charity on the Antrim Road, donated to Templepatrick PS and Live Life Well-Being Centre in Lisburn, as well as helping to fund a defibrillator for outside the Crown and Shamrock pub in Mallusk alongside the bar’s manager, who matched our donations to enable buying and installation.

"We’d like to thank our sponsors, our players, their families and everyone who has supported our charity efforts.”

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