A KEY Bradford (Park Avenue) employee is behind a new football project which aims to use the beautiful game as an outlet for men struggling with mental health issues.

Avenue's football operations manager Calum Cullen, who has openly admitted to battling his own demons in the past, is the man behind Lads FC, which will be launching in July down at Horsfall.

Revealing the reasons why he set up the team and its purpose, Cullen said: “It is to get people out of their homes, having a game of football, and just letting go of their normal everyday life to enjoy themselves for an hour a week.

“I’m not going to lie, I saw a similar project elsewhere in the UK, which I really liked the idea of, so I put my own spin on the idea and chose to create Lads FC.

“One of the main contributing factors is that I run a lot of football clubs in Leeds and we have sadly had three suicides within the last six years.

“At some point you have to turn around and think we need to do something about this right now.

“There’s raising money, asking people to call and talk to someone, but it isn’t enough.

“We need to do something different.”

When asked about the public’s reaction to Lads FC, Cullen replied: “It’s been fantastic, really good.

“With my connections to my football clubs including Bradford (Park Avenue), they are all positive.

“We’ve had a very good uptake on the idea for when we launch in July, so that looks like it is a positive thing that people want to engage with the Lads FC.

“The amount of likes and shares we’ve received through our social media platforms has been astonishing.

“It’s really been overwhelming. People have left nice and supportive comments engaging with our idea.”

When asked whether he would continue Lads FC after the initial July period, Cullen responded: “We just booked the July period to see what the attendance numbers were.

“I didn’t want to book for six months and nobody turn up.”

“I would love to do it weekly and I would love to do it in more than one location.

“As long as the demand is there I’ll supply the venue it’s as simple as that.”

“It’s really important to see a good uptake of people attending before we look to expand.”

The sessions will run from 7-8pm on Fridays down at Horsfall, starting on July 2, and cost £5 an hour per person.

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