Former Norwich City Academy and Peterborough United player Bobby Copping has launched a foundation to support sportspeople, their families and club staff with their mental health.

Mr Copping, 19, who grew up in Dereham, was forced to retire from football aged just 19 after a head injury sustained when heading the ball last month. It followed a mini-seizure he had after heading the ball during a training game in July last year.

Together with Kayleigh Stent, 29, United's training ground manager and head of academy safeguarding and player care, he has set up the Bobby Copping Foundation, with plans to deliver workshops about mental health in sport at clubs, schools, colleges and universities across the country.

Dereham Times: Former Peterborough United player Bobby Copping was forced to retired aged just 19 after a head injury.Former Peterborough United player Bobby Copping was forced to retired aged just 19 after a head injury. (Image: Joe Dent)

Mr Copping said they planned to progress into counselling and would have an open clinic for people to find support.

He said: "I want to try and help as many people as possible because I know from first-hand experience how low you can feel when something you have worked so hard for is taking away from you.

"In football, there are so many challenges you need to overcome at every age group, from being released to injury and the foundation is going to try and provide support for not just those players, but also their families too."

Mr Copping, who works in business operations at the club, said his injuries and their consequences had led him to "some very dark places" which he was able to overcome with the help of others.

"My family, my girlfriend and those close to me got me through and the people at my football club have been extremely supportive," he said.

"After announcing my retirement I have been overwhelmed and humbled with the media attention my story has received, and I am determined that this setback will not define me. Therefore I aim to turn this story of adversity into one that will benefit others."

Miss Stent also relied on the support of others after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer about six years ago. She said they both felt it was important that the foundation had a broad scope.

The foundation has Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and has launched a JustGiving appeal to fund an initial series of workshops.