Ex-Posh defender Bobby Copping has big plans for the future as he launches foundation following early retirement
Few people are forced to quit their dream job aged 19, but Bobby Copping is determined to make a success of his second career while helping others facing their own struggles.
The talented Peterborough United defender retired in February on medical advice due to a head injury which has left him with short-term memory loss and unable to even sit in a moving vehicle.
But undeterred by the cruel end to a promising football career Copping has thrown himself into several new roles while also raising money for mental health charity Mind.
And on Wednesday he delivered the first of what he hopes will be many workshops when he addressed pupils at Stamford College before watching a training session as he aims to support youngsters battling their own mental health struggles through his new foundation.
The former Posh player spoke about his big plans for the future - and how he intends to stay in football - with the Peterborough Telegraph. But first of all, how is he feeling now?
“Mentally, the worst part’s been. I received a lot of support from the whole football community,” Bobby said. “From that side of things I’m doing well and have my aspirations to take me forward.
“Physically, the effects of the injury, my memory is still not 100 per cent. I’m hoping that will slowly get better on a day-to-day basis. Being a passenger in a car is something I can’t do. I’m not sure why.”
Bobby’s career-ending injury came from two instances of heading a ball five months apart which left him with 10 per cent vision and lying in an ambulance unable to recall the year he was born.
Posh responded by offering him a business operations role in the academy, while Bobby set up the Bobby Copping Foundation to support young sports people who have been dealt with adverse challenges, resulting in mental health issues.
On top of that, the teenager is studying to be a personal trainer and is looking to earn a qualification so he can one day become a sporting director.
“With the foundation the idea is to give back and help as many people as possible who have been in my situation or will go through something similar, either with football, another sport or general life,” Bobby explained.
“We aim to provide mental health support - that’s the main objective - and help and educate as many people as possible.. I want to use my experiences to help others.”
The £10,000 needed to get the foundation off the ground has now been reached, largely thanks to the generosity of former England defender John Terry who auctioned off a number of prized possessions, while others who donated items included Arsenal stars Bukayo Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bernd Leno and Ollie Watkins from Aston Villa.
Posh co-owner Stewart Thompson also donated £5,000 as the football community showed its support for one of their own.
“The workshop at Stamford will be our first one,” Bobby said. “The money is going towards that for equipment and, in the future, for counselling.
“The first talk is my story - it will be the highs and lows of my career and how I dealt with that mentally. I can show how I got through it if they’re going through a similar thing.
“I’m doing two talks with students then attending one of their training sessions to watch and help with coaching.
“We’re starting local, getting feedback, then building on it. Our plan is in five years’ time we’re giving talks all over the country and inspiring as many young athletes as possible.”
If building up a foundation was not challenging enough Bobby has thrown himself into his new job at Posh while also running 18k every day this month to raise money for Mind.
“There are 18 deaths a day via suicide so I thought I wanted to do something to raise awareness of that,” he said.
“My legs don’t feel too bad but the bottom of my feet are getting sore. I’m getting through though.
“I’m also studying to be a qualified personal trainer and I’m in talks with the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) about doing a degree or master’s in sporting directorship - that’s my aim now, to do that qualification and progress my career down that side of things.”
Bobby, whose family home is in Dereham, Norfolk, was full of praise for Posh: “They have been amazing - I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” he said.
Right now he is living with first-teamers Siriki Dembele and Idris Kanu who he hopes to be celebrating with at the end of the season with Posh pushing for promotion to the Championship - English football’s second tier.
“I go out and watch training sometimes just to feel a part of it,” he added. “I really hope we do get promoted.”
For more information on the Bobby Copping Foundation, visit: https://www.thebobbycoppingfoundation.com/.
Donations to the foundation can be made at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/thebobbycoppingfoundation.
Donations to Mind can be made at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bobby-copping.