A CHARITY football match has raised over £400 for a mental health charity.

Kick Out the Stigma, an initiative spearheaded by Michael Ford, hosts fun and friendly football matches every Tuesday at Charlton Astro.

To broaden its support base, Kick Out the Stigma scheduled a charity football match against Kick Start FC, which took place on Saturday, December 2.

Kick Out the Stigma came away with a loss on the day, losing 5-4 in an action-packed game of football, fun and laughter.

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The event, together with several other fundraising activities helped by Kick Out the Stigma, has raised over £400 for local charity Andover Mind.

The match was due to take place on Picket Twenty sports field, but after realising the field was frozen, the game was moved to VCP Football pitch, Bulford Road, Tidworth.

Michael even treated the players to water and cut oranges, to the player's humour and delight.

Michael said: "We had a bit of a kerfuffle at the start of the day, as the pitch we were due to play on was frozen, but luckily we managed to get another pitch sorted so we could play there instead. The crowd still showed up to support us though which was fantastic to see.

"The game was fantastic. There was a brilliant atmosphere and everyone was having a laugh and having fun, which is what it is all about.

"We enjoyed a great game of football with Kick Start FC, and even got them a little trophy to congratulate them on their victory. Despite that, it wasn't about winning or losing today.

"It's about coming together, getting in some exercise and having a laugh, and a bit of fun."

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Michael said that Kick Out the Stigma, who have been playing for around four months, is looking forward to 2024 and plans to hold future charity games and take part in tournaments going forward.

He added that the team were enquiring about the use of a second pitch, to allow the team to expand to more players.

The initiative is continually growing and welcomes individuals aged 16 and above. Proudly sponsored by S:CRAFT, a premium distributor of made-to-measure shutters and blinds, the initiative aims to support mental health causes.

Motivated by a mental health course, Michael launched the project to address the challenges faced by individuals dealing with mental health issues.

Recognising the therapeutic benefits of exercise, these matches offer a fun and flexible space with no expectations, drawing an enthusiastic crowd every Tuesday.

In addition to the weekly matches, Michael is actively raising funds for Andover Mind through a collaboration with Crafty Owl, a local business specialising in personalised clothing.

For every purchase of branded clothing, a generous contribution of £2.50 per item will be donated to Andover Mind.

If you’re interested, connect through Facebook facebook.com/kickoutthestigma or WhatsApp: 07823 340223.