A FOOTBALL tournament to highlight the stigma around men’s mental health is being held in Malton after one of the players’ friends took his own life.

Tournament organiser Steve Mason decided to hold the event after his friend of 30 years died last summer.

“This is an issue close to my heart and became part of my life last year when a close friend of 30 years took his life,” he said.

The friends met on the Leeds club circuit, where they used to DJ. Paul, who was in his 40s, took his own life in June last year.

“We don’t know why and to this day all around him wish we were better informed at spotting potential problems,” Steve said.

“All was fine. That’s the thing about it. No-one knew it was going on. That’s the story that’s reflected in a lot of these cases.”

Teams from across Yorkshire and further afield are set to come to the Malton Community Sports Centre on June 23, from 10am, for the special seven-a-side tournament, hosted by Malton Veterans FC.

It will raise cash for the Next Steps charity, which supports people with mental health problems.

Leisa Burniston, manager at Next Steps in Norton, said: “Over 50 men will be present to ‘tackle’ the stigma of mental health and talk openly among each other while raising understanding and awareness of mental health issues, including male suicide.

“Poor mental health for anyone can be devastating, but increasingly so in men, it can be fatal.

“The Veterans FC is an amazing way of keeping your mind and body healthy, and also help to support good mental health.”

Malton Veterans FC was established in 2014 to give an opportunity for those players over a certain age who want to continue playing football.

Malton Community Sports Centre is supporting the tournament.

Jay Rowley, sports centre manager, said: “I have personal experience of the ‘dark periods’ that effect many men throughout the world, and I found knowledge, understanding and support hard to come by when I needed it most.

“I was fortunate that I have a good network of friends and family who helped me when I was in need.

“Thankfully we are coming together as a nation to raise awareness of the support that is available, and it is projects such as this tournament which will really make a difference at a local level.”