Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Football child abuse: Prince William visits Sporting Chance

Prince William with staff at Sporting Chances Image copyright Reuters

The Duke of Cambridge has met with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse at a charity set up by former England football captain Tony Adams.

Prince William, who is the president of the Football Association (FA), visited Sporting Chance in Liphook, Hampshire.

The charity is working with those affected by non-recent sexual abuse in football.

Prince William said clubs needed a better understanding of looking after players' mental health.

He said: "We have been very good at tackling things like racism and such in football and the fact that we are now seen to be leading the way in football and mental health is fantastic.

"I've always felt those young men get put into the situation where they have amazing feet, their skill with the ball is unquestionable, but everyone forgets about the rest of the body, they forget about the head, they forget about how they have been brought up, about what they have been through."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ian Ackley, who was a victim of childhood abuse, said the visit was 'hugely significant'

Sporting Chance helps clubs and athletes tackle issues including addiction, depression and anxiety.

After reports of non-recent childhood sexual abuse became public last year, the FA approached the charity to set up a special support service for those affected.

Mr Adams said: "It's great that he [Prince William] is showing an interest in what we do and it's fantastic that we can cement the partnership we've got with the FA."

Ian Ackley, who has spoken about abuse he suffered as a child, described the duke's visit as "hugely significant".

He said: "I've been wanting to speak to anyone and everyone for a long time and in the last eight-nine months we've come a long way.

"To be able to sit and have an audience with the duke is just something I couldn't ever have imagined."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tony Adams said it was great to have the support of the duke

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