Offload making a massive difference at Widnes Vikings

The latest round of Offload ‘fixtures’ came to an end at Widnes Vikings this week with all the participants agreeing that the Rugby League Cares men’s health initiative has been a huge success.

Offload is a men’s mental fitness and wellbeing project run by RL Cares in partnership with State of Mind and the club foundations at Salford Red Devils, Warrington Wolves and Widnes Vikings. Funded by the Big Lottery, Offload is helping challenge how the sporting world tackles issues such as depression and anxiety, and is already receiving widespread acclaim for its work.
Offload Widnes 1
Men are invited to come behind the scenes of their home team and find out how players, coaches and referees stay mentally strong as well as physically fit.

Designed and delivered with the help of State of Mind and other agencies, Offload is open to all men aged 16 and over. Men meet and talk with current and former professional players to learn techniques that Rugby League clubs use to manage the mental and physical fitness of players.

For Tony Jaris, a lifelong Widnes fan, the regular Tuesday night Offload fixtures have enhanced his health and outlook on life, and seen him make a lot of new friends.

“I came to the very first Offload fixture at Widnes back in May and have never looked back,” said Tony.

“When the fixture started, no-one would say anything to each other because as men it’s not easy talking about mental fitness and health.

“However, we soon got used to each other and started to open up because it feels like you’re with mates. There’s a real sense of trust within the group.

“Not everyone has got depression and we’ve all experienced different issues but rugby provides us with a common bond.

Tony, 57, recently retired and says he wished he had been able to take part in Offload during his working life.

“When I was working I had trouble coping with stress and sleep was difficult,” he said. “I was on medication for a while and though I don’t need it any more, I’m still interested in why and how depression and stress happen.

“There’s so much variety in the Offload sessions and it’s great to be able to learn how former players, coaches and officials deal with stress and pressure.

“My favourite fixture is one on mindfulness when we look at meditation and breathing. The techniques I have learned help me relax and sleep better than I have ever done.

“Taking part in Offload is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

“It can feel like a big step attending your first fixture but that’s normal: everyone who comes along is nervous and uncertain at first but you very quickly relax and get into it.”

The next round of Offload fixtures at Widnes, Warrington and Salford take place in the New Year. For more details please see below:

Salford Red Devils

Joanne Shepherd –

0161 786 1591 or text 07538042666

Widnes Vikings

Sean Mellor –

0151 4952250 # 4

Warrington Wolves

James Howes –

01925 248894