Katie Startup is Charlton Athletic’s undisputed number one – but there is a very good reason why she didn’t plump for that on the back of her shirt this season.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper instead went for 40, which is the amount of seconds that one person in the world dies from suicide.
“If you don’t pick number one in my position then you know people are going to be asking and talking about why you didn’t,” said Startup, 20. “You can use that to raise awareness and make an impact.
“I’d thought about dedicating my number to a cause and I found that stat so harrowing. I knew it was the one to go with. It has worked more than I thought it would. I knew people in and around the club would ask the question why, but the response in the wider community has been fantastic as well.
“You get things like World Mental Health Week where lots of people have spoken about their own experiences and there are so many great organisations set up to help. You are starting to get an environment where it feels safer to talk about these sort of things.”
One of Startup’s friends was helped by a crisis team.
“Luckily she did speak about it – and one of the people was me,” said the Addicks player.
“I could help her through a little bit.
“The work that Mind and the Samaritans do is absolutely amazing. They helped to save one of my friends. I do feel they go unnoticed sometimes.”
Charlton, bottom of the FA Women’s Championship, are at home to Leicester tomorrow. Last season the South London club challenged for promotion.
“It’s been a bit difficult to take after such a successful last season,” said Startup. “But we’ve got a little run against teams who are in the middle or the bottom of the table.
“This is one of the matches we’ve been looking at the last couple of weeks thinking this is the chance to get something rolling now. This is one we’ve been really prepping for.”
The FA have made it Women’s Football Weekend on November 16 and 17, urging fans to attend a match at any level.
PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD
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