Social worker Howard Beverland backs part-time Crusaders to pull off Europa League SHOCK against Wolves… but he’s already looking forward to returning to the office
- Howard Beverland works full-time in mental health services in Belfast
- Beverland trains just three times a week for part-time outfit Crusaders
- He’s booked two days off work in order to play in the Europa League clash
- The centre-back is hoping to stop Wolves in their tracks on Thursday night
Howard Beverland has taken two days off from his day job as a social worker to play in Crusaders’ Europa League tie against Wolves on Thursday night and has backed his part-time side to pull off an upset at Molineux.
The 29-year balances his full-time job in Belfast with a football career but says he is equally passionate about both vocations.
‘I work in mental health services, Monday to Friday,’ Beverland explains. ‘Young kids from four to 17 are referred to our service through their GP. It is obviously different to football but it is a job I really enjoy.’
Howard Beverland (centre) trains three times a week for Crusaders on top of his full-time job
While Wolves have been touring China, beating Manchester City on penalties in the Premier League Asia Trophy, their next opponents have been balancing training with work. Typically Crusaders have two sessions on Mondays, are off Tuesdays, go in on Wednesday mornings and Thursday nights, then have Friday off.
Like every other member of the side, Beverland has booked a couple of days away from work to feature against Wolves, with bosses understanding that, as he says, ‘it will take an awful lot to top this experience in our football careers.’
Crusaders plan to soak up the occasion but Beverland will be happy to return to the office for an occupation he finds very rewarding.
Football can come in handy, especially with the boys, the majority of who are into it. You can share a bit and suddenly you have their attention.
‘Some kids have a really bad start to life and experience problems at home or bullying,’ he says. ‘It leaves some struggling to manage emotionally and socially. I think if you are able to help one young person you can help a family, and if you can help a family you can help a community.
‘There was a particular case with a young person who had experienced a lot of issues. There was parental separation and he had no contact with his dad. It left him with a feeling of rejection, his self-worth being low, and it resulted in self-harming for a period of time.
‘We began to work through that, talk to him to explain there are other ways to express your emotions. We had to tell him, “You are not responsible for the decisions your parents made and you’ve done nothing wrong.” Once he began to see that he realised there is still a lot to achieve in life. That’s when things started to get back on track in school, the self-harming stopped, and relationships improved within his family.’
Beverland’s involvement in football, with Crusaders having won the Northern Irish title in three of the past five seasons, can help communication with younger people. ‘The key thing I’ve learnt is that if you build a rapport early, can talk in a language they understand and don’t use jargon, you’re a big part of the way there. The more they can confide the more you are able to do something for them.
‘The football can come in handy, especially with boys, the majority who are into it. You can share a bit and suddenly you have their attention.’ Beverland has found giving counselling helps him too. ‘A lot of young people come through our service because they can’t manage certain stressors in their life,’ he says. ‘When I turn up on a Saturday before a game, you can feel the pressure, you can see how that make you a different person. Part of that keeps you sharp, on your toes.’
Wolves striker Raul Jimenez earns more in a week than Crusaders’ entire squad in a year
The weekly wage of Raul Jimenez would cover Crusaders’ entire budget for a year and Beverland appreciates that Nuno Espirito Santo’s side should progress easily. But he still holds hope. ‘You look at FA Cup games where big clubs go and play smaller teams and people say, “It will be a cricket score.” But there are shocks every year.
‘We have to implement our game plan well, make sure we have good lines. We are going to empty the tank really, with players on the bench who can come on.
‘It will be surreal but we want to give a respectful account of ourselves.. It’s going to be a massive uphill task. People from Northern Ireland have a great deal of pride though. We play for the badge, the shirt, our fans.. We will give our all.’