Across Dundee, supporters are passionate about football — and it seems the beautiful game is winning over a whole new legion of fans.
A study by Abertay University has found that sport can play a key role in helping people recover from severe mental health issues.
Researchers were looking at the Football Therapy project which is already running in the city.
It has proved so successful that a move to expand the scheme to include netball and volleyball is being considered.
The Tele went along to the Ardler Complex to meet a group of people with severe mental health issues and learn a bit more.
Mark Holme, 66, from Birkhill was a social worker and mental health worker until he was diagnosed with bipolar disease around 2000.
He said if it wasn’t for the walking football group at Ardler he would spend most of his days staring at the walls at home.
Mark said: “Coming here has been fantastic and has been part of my journey towards recovery.
“Here you meet people with the same concerns about mental health and who understand what you’re going though. Not only are you getting physical exercise — which is known to help with mental health — but the social and support aspect is also amazing.
“Most of all, it gets me out of the house. There are days when the four walls come in on you but this gives you something to look forward to.”
Elspeth Walker, 56, from Broughty Ferry, is a volunteer with the group.
She has also suffered from years of mental ill health and takes part in the walking football sessions.
Elspeth said: “When you’re here everybody just accepts you for what you are. When you’re really struggling, taking part helps both mentally and physically.”
Gill McDonald, a specialist physiotherapist with Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership, said the sessions are funded by the NHS.
Those referred have “severe and enduring” mental illnesses.
She said people who attend at Ardler suffer from a variety of problems including schizophrenia, bipolar, personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.
Gill said: “Football Therapy has been delivered in Dundee since 2011.
“From the early days, we have grown in numbers, strength and confidence with support from NHS Tayside and our community partners.
“The study in conjunction with Abertay University has been worthwhile but there is much more scope for further research into developing physical activity within the mental health arena.
“From Football Therapy, we have been able to use the knowledge and skills to promote walking football within the mental health setting.”
Gill said the physiotherapy team was currently working with “United for All”, a sporting charity run in conjunction with Dundee United Football Club.
She added: “Their support will hopefully integrate mental health into the community setting, allowing patients to be included in main stream activities. The future is bright with walking netball and seated volleyball being researched.”
There will be a walking football tournament at the centre on April 25 to support Mental Health Awareness week.