OAKLAND, Calif. – Oakland Roots Sports Club announced on Wednesday it will host a Sport Performance and Mental Health Awareness Panel on Thursday, May 13th at 5:10 p.m. PT as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. The panel will be streamed live on the club’s YouTube channel.
This year, Roots SC launched Nurtured Roots in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross, a new player development program which focuses on holistic wellness, performance, and education about global, national and local issues seen through the eyes of the community.
The panel will be hosted by Roots newly hired Mental Health and Sport Performance Specialist Lisa Bonta Sumii, LCSW. Roots Assistant Coach, Chris Malenab, an advocate and champion for mental health awareness and Assistant Coach Nana Attakora, who while captain, helped establish the Nurtured Roots program, will be featured.
“It is imperative to address the mental health of any athlete, as it is with any human,” said Bonta Sumii. “Destigmatization and growing awareness starts with education and information about what mental health is and what it isn’t. The athlete’s performance on and off the field, is directly related to sound mental health.”
“Mental health needs to be a priority,” added Malenab, who prior to joining Roots SC had previously coached at Sacramento Republic FC and Reno 1868 FC. “The mental health and the resources available to the human being is critical in order for the athlete to perform at their highest level.”
The panel will be a chance for athletes, fans and community members to speak, ask questions and hear from coaches and leaders in the Mental Health space in sports.
“Mental Health in sports has been something throughout my career I felt was overlooked. I truly believe mental health is the most important aspect in sports and more attention should be brought to it,” said Attakora. “Throughout my 15 years in the game I dealt with so many difficult moments that really affected me mentally and in the early parts of my career not having the right resources or support systems made it very difficult to cope. I believe we all need to do our part to bring more awareness and empathy to the topic and conversations around mental health and let our athletes know it is okay to feel and express yourself in times of weakness.”