Credit: Janosch Diggelmann

Appin Warriors Premier League fostering support for men’s mental and physical health through football

By Natasha Coyle

Gary Thorn, A.W.P.L Founder and Chairman of a division in Scotland’s Amateur Football, proudly says his league is the sole initiative in the country that is dedicated to supporting players both physically and mentally.

Content warning: Mental Health

After the creation of the Warriors Premier League (WPL), the sports brand Appin has partnered with the league to expand its role in supporting mental and physical health concerns in Scottish football. The Appin Warriors Premier League (AWPL) encompasses 12 teams, and due to popular demand, the AWPL is welcoming 10 new teams into their new championship division for the 2023/24 season.

The WPL defined itself as “Scotland’s first and only Amateur Football League dedicated to supporting overweight men physically and mentally”. The league looks to offer an outlet to support those facing issues surrounding mental and physical health.

Appin’s brand values are deeply rooted in the transformative power of sports, particularly football. They believe in creating a nurturing sporting environment and envision a future where football transcends physical attributes, allowing every individual, regardless of their size or shape, to wholeheartedly embrace it.

Gary Thorn, founder of the AWPL, said, “Physical health and body image, not to mention prejudice against overweight players, is a barrier for many people that may prevent them from enjoying football.”

The AWPL’s sole initiative in Scotland is dedicated to supporting players physically and mentally through football.

Previous and continual national initiatives to support men’s health include Movember. Movember is the leading charity changing the face of men’s health, often associated with successful and memorable social media campaigns. The charity is greatly supported by universities throughout the UK.

The creation and expansion of the AWPL is a greatly welcomed step in supporting male body image, mental and physical health concerns. 77% of men polled by Priory Group suffered common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress or depression. Furthermore, 23% of those men noted that the cause for their mental health struggles was due to their health. The Scottish Football Association (SFA) stated in a recent report that 25% of the population in Scotland experience mental health issues annually.

The AWPL have actively taken on board Sport Scotland’s findings that being regularly active is shown to have a beneficial impact on alleviating stress, improving moods, and increasing self-esteem.

Player reaction has been positive and supportive of the work being done by the AWPL. Thorn commented that, “The reaction from those involved has been amazing, everyone seems to really appreciate the opportunity to be involved and they have expressed their thanks. Some of them have used the league as the catalyst for their weight loss and others have used it to build friendships with like-minded individuals. A lot of our members just enjoy having a way back into football again.”

The SFA has a Football For All Strategy that aims to remove barriers and reduce inequalities to increase participation in the sport. However, there is a lack of support and recognition for the Appin Warriors Premier League concept.

“Having evidenced how our league works to break down barriers and how popular it is with players, I believe it would be massively successful if it was recognised and supported by the SFA,” Thorn said.

The AWPL’s success stands as a testament to its potential for impactful change, making a lasting impact on the lives of those it embraces through fostering a supportive space where football becomes a vehicle for empowerment and well-being. 


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments