Challenge For Charity: Humphreys takes on The London Marathon and Iron Fran

Cahllenge for Charity - Ritchie Humphreys

PFA’s Ritchie Humphreys raises more than £2000 for MIND running the London Marathon

As a Delegate Liaison Executive at the PFA, Ritchie Humphreys spends his days doing whatever it takes to help former and current football players navigate challenges - both on and off the pitch. That determined energy has spilled over into charity work, with Ritchie taking on an Iron Man challenge last year to raise money for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Alzheimers UK. This year, he decided to run the London Marathon for the first time for MIND, raising an impressive £2000 for the charity before he even got to the starting line. Amazingly, one marathon wasn’t quite enough for the former chairman, with an Iron Man challenge pencilled in just days later. Here, Ritchie tells us what makes this extraordinary effort worthwhile. 

Ritchie, congratulations on finishing the marathon and reaching your fundraising goal! What made you choose MIND as your charity?

We’re focusing on mental health awareness more now within football, and we’ve had several ex-players that have come forward and talked about their struggles, so it’s really important. At the PFA, we’ve established our wellbeing department and held conferences talking about mental health issues for the last two years. MIND is also doing some terrific work in that area. They currently have a partnership with the EFL, with their logo on the back of the shirts, so they’re using football as a vehicle to get people thinking about their mental health, and I believe it’s important to raise awareness of what they’re doing.

What was it like running your first stand-alone marathon?

It went as planned for 21 miles and then it became really hard work.  I aimed to complete it in less than 4 hours, and I had a time of 3h 55 minutes, so I was delighted. Supporters were giving out sweets and holding up signs to spur us on along the whole route, which was fantastic. I’m so thankful to all the spectators for their support because they really do make it. Coming round the corner and seeing a mass of people running over London Bridge was a particularly good memory. I wish I had been able to look back during the last mile, but I was just keeping my head down to get over the line. I’ve always watched the marathon on TV and wanted to do it, and I was really happy I was able to raise some money as well.

We hear that you’re also taking on an Ironman challenge this week?

Yes! The amazing Francis Benali is currently in the middle of his ‘Benali’s Iron Fran 2019’  - seven Ironman triathlons in seven days -  where he’s trying to raise a million pounds for Cancer Research UK . I’m going down to join him on Friday in Farnborough and I hope to complete the challenge with him. I know how hard it was when I did just one Ironman last year,  so I’m really glad I can support him and bring some extra awareness to help him reach his target.

Where would you like to see the conversation on mental health go in football?

There’s lots of work to do and we are providing more education around it, especially for the younger players coming into the game. We’re working with the clubs to highlight the importance of looking after your mental health to players, and I always make sure they have access to the PFA’s counselling hotline number. It’s a totally confidential, 24/7 service and we have trained counsellors all over the country to help both current and former players get the help they need. We also have a dedicated Player Wellbeing department if players want to contact us directly, and we can talk through all the different areas of support available through the PFA.  Hopefully, we’ll get to a point where there’s no longer any mental health stigma, but I think we’re definitely going in the right direction.

Support Iron Fran 2019

Although Ritchie’s marathon is complete, you can still support both Ritchie and Francis Benali in the ‘Iron Fran 2019’. To find out more, and donate, visit Francis’ fundraising site: click here