When the first Mental Health World Cup kicks off at Queens Park Rangers’ Loftus Road ground this weekend, it will mark an incredible milestone for both football and founder Giancarlo Gaglione.
The 38-year-old first set up his first tournament in memory of his late brother Lanfranco, who took his own life aged just 27 in 2012.
The ‘Lan the Baron’ World Cup was a small-scale, grassroots affair at the time – taking place at Downhills Park in Haringey with the aim of keeping the memory of Lanfranco alive.
Sunday’s 24-team, open-access five-a-side tournament at a Championship football ground is a sign of how far the event has come in the last seven years as it takes on the title of the Mental Health World Cup for the first time.
Initially we started in a local park for five years. We got some goals from Argos and some spray cans to mark out the pitches!
But the mission remains the same – trying to change the game when it comes to getting men to speak about their mental health struggles.
“Me and my family wanted to do something to try and prevent other families from going through what we went through,” Gianfranco told The Big Issue. “For us, at the time, Lanfranco’s death was a real shock.