Shaka and the Croydon Eagles

Shaka is another success story from the Croydon Eagles, the football team that Mind in Croydon runs in partnership with the Palace for Life Foundation. Shukhan (Shaka) Scanlan, grew up in Norwood, and loved playing football when he was younger, with his mum taking him to Pelo FC in Dulwich. Here, he enjoyed the little tournaments and went on to play for one of their League teams. Shaka went to school in Gypsy Hill, which he really liked and then after school went to study at Bromley College. However things started to take a turn for the worse around this time and Shaka dropped out of college pretty quickly.

He began to experience “sadness and bad dreams” which has taken his focus away from his interests. Shaka began to spend more and more time at home and the bad thoughts continued to grow. His sister helped Shaka to get in touch with Mind In Croydon, whose Active Minds project supported Shaka to join the football programme that the Palace for Life Foundation supports for adults who have experienced mental health problems.

Thinking back to his first day with us just over a year ago Shaka says he “liked it straight away. I liked being active and the boys were all good to me.” Now a regular member of the group, Shaka thinks the best things about coming to the program are “the matches we play in training every Wednesday, the league games we play and the camaraderie amongst the players.” Shaka does see some of the other lads in Croydon outside of these sessions from time to time, but he is happiest just coming and playing rather than trying to make a new group of friends.

Shaka acknowledges that coming to our football sessions has made a positive change to his life. He now also plays for the mental health football team that has grown out of these weekly training sessions, the Croydon Eagles. He says: “Getting active, getting out and doing things is good for the mind. It brings back good memories of when I used to play. I feel fitter and stronger and am improving again, trying to get back into playing.” If he was not involved with the programme and the Croydon Eagles, Shaka states that he would “probably be at home, not doing anything” which he believes does not help him maintain good mental health.

Things are still not easy for Shaka but he knows that these sessions are helping him do things that he thought he couldn’t do anymore. “I really look forward to coming every week.” he says. When asked if he would recommend this to anyone else who is experiencing mental health problems Shaka suggests that anyone interested should “come along and see it for themselves.”

Palace for Life Foundation Disability Manager Michael Harrington, who runs the weekly football sessions at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, offers the following insight:“Shaka was very quiet when he first came to us, and he still can be today. It was clear from day 1 that he had a great touch but his fitness levels and strength were low, leaving him struggling at times to keep up with others in the group. However attending regularly, and working hard when he is with us, has brought these levels up remarkably and he now can train and play for two hours straight through without the need for additional breaks. It is not just the football side that we aim to focus on, the social side of programs like this are equally as vital. This was highlighted to us when Shaka continued to come to recent training sessions even when he was out injured with a fractured wrist so he could see what was going on and to feel part of the group. His wrist is now healed and he is back doing what he loves the most – playing football!”

Croydon Eagles Victory in Brighton

The Croydon Eagles have just completed a brilliant Victory at Brighton’s mental health tournament. The competition took place to celebrate World Mental Health Day and featured teams from all over the South of England.

The games were played in a competitive but very enjoyable way. The participating teams included sides from Brighton, Arsenal, Charlton, Portsmouth, and of course the Eagles team and all played throughout the tournament in the right spirit.

The whole day was a fitting way to celebrate World Mental Health day and hopefully helped to spread awareness of mental health issues. With the news of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge publicising the day, I would say the word is definitely getting out there.

Back to the football and The Eagles started off by wining their group with three wins out of three. We then progressed to the cup group stage where we played two tough games against Newhaven and Brighton’s B-team. We won both games 2-0 and 1-0, respectively.

We had made the semi final where we faced Victory Hants of Portsmouth. We had had some tough encounters with them in the past so we were pretty surprised at the comprehensive win. We scored 5 with no reply to reach the final where we would play Brighton’s A team, Crystal Palace and Brighton’s rivalry would add a little spice to the final. Thankfully the game was played in the right spirit and The Eagles would go on to sneak the final with a Dan Butler extra time winner to break Seagull hearts. The Brighton boys took it well though and there were all smiles at the end. Dan finished the day as top scorer with 7 goals.

The victory capped a brilliant day run by our hosts and friends Albion in the Community. Mental health football is really taking off with the leagues and tournaments taking place all over the country. The benefits of this to those who have been through mental health illness are massive and this can only be a good thing for us all.

So to conclude we would like to thank James Creegan and Jel Clifford for coaching us and to all the players who gave a massive effort to lift the cup for The Croydon Eagles. We would also like to thank Peter Rogers who couldn’t make it on the day but who works for Mind in Croydon and always makes sure everything runs smoothly for the team, and to Marlon Hobbs who on the day played for Brighton and helped them all the way to the final. This was due to a limit on the number of players per team and for all who know him Marlon is never less than enthusiastic. He nearly scored against us in the final which would have made for an interesting trip home. But we are sure he was pleased with his loser’s medal. Well done Marlon (I meant runners up medal Ha ha!)

Croydon Eagles are Mind in Croydon and CPFC’s Foundations’ Mental health Football team.

By Tim Matthias (Eagles defender (veteran))

Make Ours A Treble

The Croydon Eagles are the Mind in Croydon and CPFC Foundation mental health football team. We’ve just completed our most successful season to date that ended with three trophies as well as hosting our first tournament.

croydon eagles small

The season began with a trip to Walton-on-Thames to compete in our first competition in the Surrey League we joined this year. Things couldn’t have started better in the Surrey Era for us as we put in a battling performance on the way to lifting the Surrey FA Community Cup. A brilliant achievement by all the squad with Jel Clifford bagging the winning goal in the final to win it for us.

We had set our stall out and let the rest of the Surrey League know we had arrived. This was our debut season and we were made extremely welcome, there was a really friendly atmosphere on the day and we were roundly applauded for our win – a gesture we really appreciated. Palace even arranged a victory parade with our trophy at Selhurst Park during the Leicester City Premier League match.

We then began our league campaign; all the guys were looking forward to seeing what the league had in store for us. We started strongly beating the reigning champions Kingston and things just got better as we surged onwards. After winning our first five matches everyone was beginning to feel optimistic about our chances of actually winning the league at the first attempt. That optimism proved well founded as we went on to win all our games and make it a league and cup double. For our player coach Paul Richards this was his first season in the role and you would have to say a near perfect start. Paul also ended up as top scorer and Players Player of the Season while Will Castle was voted Most Improved Player to go alongside his award from Surrey FA for most sporting member of the league. We would like to say a massive thanks to all at the Surrey League for making us so welcome.

We ended our brilliant season with perhaps our best achievement yet. For the second year we travelled down to the National Mental Health Football Therapy Tournament in Lewes with high hopes. All our team contributed to a monumental effort and despite losing our first game to Everton we then went unbeaten for the rest of the tournament coming up against Everton once again in the final who this time we beat 1-0 to lift the trophy, Tony Thompson netting the winner. The whole team raised their game and played brilliantly. Everton were billed as pre-tournament favourites as one of the best mental health teams in the country which tells its own story.

We also hosted our first tournament at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre which was a great success with The Croydon Eagles losing finalists to Brixton.

We couldn’t be too downhearted though; this season has been an amazing journey for all of the squad. It has lifted everyone’s spirits; all of us have seen pretty tough times, experiencing varying mental health issues but the Croydon Eagles and all of the Active Minds activities help massively to improve mental wellbeing.

The football programme is a massive success so well done guys one and all and here’s to defending our titles next season.

With special thanks to Peter Rogers (Mind in Croydon), Michael Harrington (CPFC Foundation), Paul Richards, James Creegan and everyone who’s played for or supported us; played against us; reffed us or organised anything.

If you’d like to join us please contact Peter at Active Minds 
t: 020 8253 8206 

by Tim Matthias

Note: Tim received the Croydon Eagles Managers award this season for his long service and dedication to the Eagles cause.

This write up has also been featured on the Crystal Palace Football Club Foundation website at:

Croydon Eagles Mental Health Football Tournament

We’d like to invite you to the first Croydon Eagles Mental Health Football Tournament on Friday 24th July 11am to 3pm in the CPFC Academy Dome.

We are aiming for 8 teams of 6 a aside for a friendly, all abilities tournament with plenty of playing time.

There will be a £20 per team registration fee for this event. This would need to be made payable to Crystal Palace FC Foundation by a cheque sent to The Crystal Palace Foundation at Selhurst Park Stadium, London SE25 6PU.

If your team is interested please contact Peter Rogers on 020 8253 8206 or email