Mental Health Champions


Wiltshire FA is pleased to be part of a new mental health champions scheme launched by The FA, to provide advice and support to grassroots match officials across the County.

The transformative scheme, believed to be the first of its kind for grassroots match officials in any sport, aims to create an open environment so that everyone involved in the refereeing community in Wiltshire can talk openly about mental health and be supported.

As a founding signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and the Heads Up Mentally Healthy Football Declaration, The FA has worked closely with Mind to co-design the mental health champion role to help tackle the stigma of mental health within refereeing.

As part of the scheme, our volunteers Sam Gooding and Revd Dr Father Mark Paris-Haines from within the grassroots refereeing community will champion the importance of mental wellbeing, encourage conversation and act as a point of contact for any match official aged 18 or over experiencing mental health problems, helping to signpost towards professional support services if required.

Richard Glynne-Jones, FA National Referee Manager said: "The mental health and wellbeing of people is more important now than ever, and The FA is committed to putting important steps in place to support our grassroots match officials. This scheme will help create a culture that promotes positive mental health amongst our refereeing community, encouraging honest and open conversations and breaking down the historic stigmas to inspire positive change. We are grateful for the support of Wiltshire CFA in driving the scheme forward”.

Hayley Jarvis, Head of Physical Activity for Mind, said: “Mental health is gaining increasing visibility in football, which is hugely encouraging. But while the mental health of fans and players is now being talked about more than ever, it’s vital that we address the wellbeing of everyone involved in the game, not least referees, who face a unique set of challenges that could affect their mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with The FA, and our training partner Washington Mind, on this ground-breaking scheme to support the mental health of grassroots match officials across the country.”

Oliver Selfe, CEO at Wiltshire FA, said: "We live in an increasingly busy and demanding world, which can take its toll both physically and mentally. Sport and in this case football is seen as a sanctuary and an opportunity to forget about the ‘hussle and bussle’ of day to day life, however as a sportsman, whether a referee, coach or player this isn’t always the case. We know that being a referee can be very rewarding, and it certainly improves your physical fitness, however referees have considerable responsibility and it can feel a very isolated and lonely place at times, especially during those more challenging games, when things may not go according to plan. Providing a network where you can talk to your peers, share experiences and be listened too, is extremely important. The introduction of referee mental health champions is essential to how we continue to support our referees at all levels of the game."

Wiltshire CFA’s mental health champions are Sam Gooding and Revd Dr Father Mark Paris-Haines.

Revd Dr Father Mark Paris-Haines is a referee with 29 years of experience, having refereed in Wiltshire, Stroud, Gloucester, Cardiff & Bristol. He qualified at the age of 14 in the County of Gloucestershire.

Father Mark is still very active as a referee and also holds the post of Referee Secretary for the Swindon & District Football League where he has introduced a scheme to help and encourage referees within Wiltshire. Father Mark is also the community priest for Swindon Town where helps to support the homeless by providing accommodation and food. Father Mark also conducts Weddings, Funerals and Church Services within Swindon supporting the LGBTQ Community.

In his spare time, Father Mark likes to read about the history of politics, the church and the Royal family. He also enjoys short walks with his dogs and spending as much time as possible with his husband of 10 years, Chris.

Sam Gooding has been a referee for 9 years in Wiltshire, having spent 4 seasons at Level 4 before dropping back down to district level due to his work and family commitments.

Sam is keen on supporting referees regards their mental health and is passionate about raising awareness of the various issues faced in today’s world. Sam also spends significant time fundraising for Wiltshire Mind.

If you have a mental health problem and would like to have a confidential conversation, then please first make contact with our mental health champions.

Contact Details

Referee Wiltshire
Mental Health Champion

Sam Gooding

Email -


Mental Health Champion

Father Mark

Email -