Interview with ‘Harry Heal the Friendly Footballer’ author: David Vaughan

Here at the Kaleidoscope Plus Group, we’ve been lucky enough to partner up with David Vaughan on the release of his new book ‘Harry Heal the Friendly Footballer’. This is a brilliant book aimed at young children with the intention of teaching them about the benefits of empathy, mindfulness and collaboration.

To celebrate the launch of Harry Heal the Friendly Footballer, we’ve had the chance to ask David some questions about the book and how he manages his own mental health.

KPG: What inspired you to come up with the story of Harry Heal the Friendly Footballer?

DV: I think Harry is loosely based on myself as when I was young, I was quite a shy sensitive kid (and still am a bit) and was always nervous about making mistakes and letting people down. This book is about embracing and moving on from those mistakes with friendship and courage. I have also travelled all over the world playing and coaching football and looking for community and a place I could call home in those new places. Joining football teams all over the world has always been the thing that has brought me community and happiness. So I see myself in Harry and Jesse in this book as they are both seeking and giving aspects of friendship, community, confidence and courage.

KPG: With such a heavy football focus in the book, I’d remiss not to ask… are you a football fan and what team do you support?

DV: Yeah, I was a Wimbledon fan back in the Crazy Gang days and had a season ticket until the team got moved to Milton Keynes so I was without a team for a while. So then, I moved to my other local team Crystal Palace because Ian Wright was my favourite player, who then moved to Arsenal. But eventually AFC Wimbledon retired and I support and follow them but I still have a soft spot for Palace and Arsenal. 

KPG: What do you hope people will take away from the story of Harry Heal? 

DV: If this book and story can help children deal with anxiety, with being open to each other in a kind, non judgmental way and stimulate conversation with each other and their parents about the topics in the book (empathy, collaboration, friendship, companionship) then my work is done and I’d be super happy.

KPG: How important is Mental Health to you?

DV: I’ve experienced my own very low points in life as a young kid from letting goals in at football as the goalie as well as getting bullied at school. But also as an adult feeling extremely lonely and a failure at life for not achieving certain things like having children, a home, a successful career, which most people at my age (42) have. Also being an actor and writer, there’s a lot of time where you’re not working and dealing with constant rejection from jobs, friends and dating. So, I always wanted to share these emotions in an indirect way and try to find a way of turning them into a positive outlet, hence some of the characters in the book hold some of these insecurities & anxieties and we find ways of helping to appease them. There is also a big focus in the media on mental health in sport these days, with high profile/top players now opening up about the issue. But we are still not focusing enough on the most important people, the young kids and educating them early on mental health issues.

KPG: We fully agree about the importance of helping young people manage their mental health. It’s crucial in these times. On that subject, how do you manage your own mental health?

DV: I run a lot, watch films, write comedy and play many sports. In particular team sports are the best as you keep yourself active and engaged but you also surround yourself with a community of supportive and kind people. I also mediate but I’ve been a bit crap at that lately, its hard to keep it up when you’re busy but it does really work. 

KPG: Lastly, what message would you like to leave the people reading this post with?

DV:  I think each person and parent and child has to find their own answers and that the first step always comes from opening up and talking about how they feel. 


Thank you to David for taking the time for this interview. ‘Harry Heal the Friendly Footballer’ is out now and available at many retailers including this one: Harry Heal the Friendly Footballer : Vaughan, David, Brylewski, Fran: Books

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