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PlayBetter Collective


MA 22/23
Play, Social Impact, Movement, Behaviour Design, Wellbeing

Violence against women and girls is an epidemic in the making. While there are effective solutions in place for survivors, victims and perpetrators, this project focuses on the belief that no human is born violent or abusive. It is the combination of factors that lead to such behaviours.

This project takes a step back, and looks at how young boys and men can learn to process emotions like anger better through elements of movement and play. It is essential to shift focus on young boys and men in order to nurture better adult men in the future.

Under the umbrella of the project, we explore how the football environment can act as a catalyst for young boys to regulate emotions better through principles of intentional movement across the process of scouting, coaching and playing. Here, movement serves as a tool for kids and adults alike to identify and express emotions to connect with themselves and their surroundings better.

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Most adult men struggle with anger issues, leading to aggressive behaviour and violent incidents in public and private spaces.

Currently, most solutions focus on rehabilitation of victims, survivors or perpetrators.

No human is born violent or abusive. It is a combination of various internal and external factors throughout childhood that leads to such behaviours. Hence,

There is a need to shift focus on young men in order to nurture better adult men in the future. 


Young boys lack the ability to identify and articulate emotions with limited channels of expression, leading to unhealthy aggressive behaviour.


discovery and insights

Anger is a responsive emotion that acts as an umbrella for other emotions to reside under it.

There is a commonly known journey of anger to violence, being:

  1. Anger - defined as an emotion of antagonism towards someone you feel has done you wrong. If left unchecked, this can lead to aggression.
  2. Aggression - defined as a behaviour aimed at harming a person, animal or damaging physical property. If left unchecked, can lead to violence.
  3. Violence - defined as extreme physical aggression intended to cause serious harm.

It is important to note that anger is not the start of this journey. There is unresolved trauma and emotions residing in oneself that lead to anger as a response. This is why when performing an aggressive act, one feels a meditative state of calm.

Boys and men comparatively find it hard to express vulnerability verbally.

Men and boys most often rely on non-verbal expression of vulnerability, often finding it hard communicate. Ironically, existing support services available for men to access predominantly rely on verbal communication. This creates fundamental barriers in a man's journey to access help. These existing services also require men to be aware and proactively take action to reach the services.

Hence, there is a need for a non-verbal intervention that is embedded in their familiar environment to bridge this gap.

Untreated emotional tension and trauma is stored in the body, leaving a real physical imprint. 

This negatively affects one's memory storage process and changes the brain's structure. The body plays an important role in how we process emotions, which is why movement has the potential to aid non-verbal expression of emotions in one's healing journey.

Football is a door to engage young men in intentional movement to regulate emotions.

1.5 million boys play organised youth football in England at one time. Taking into consideration the popularity of the sport and the scale of impact, football proves to be an effective catalyst for positive behaviour change in young men when used effectively.

envisioning the service

In a world where the rates of aggressive and violent acts are increasing by the day, how might we

enable young men playing organised youth football to access healthy outlets of emotional expression through a movement based service that is embedded in the football ecosystem?

Introducing the PlayBetter Collective

The PlayBetter Collective is an intervention that works across the stages of scouting, academy training and off-boarding experiences within football clubs to teach young players to regulate emotions, in turn resulting in character development, better performance and safer environments.

Currently, PlayBetter focuses on the Foundation phase within football academies working with young boys between 6-12 years of age.

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