A CUMNOCK youth football coach has helped players go the distance to improve their mental health – in memory of his tragic pal who took his own life.

Jordan Orr’s biggest fear is losing another youngster to suicide in Cumnock after his friend Murray Harkness died in October 2018, aged just 18.

With coronavirus shutting down football and players left on lockdown he wanted to keep them motivated so set them an exercise challenge for the whole month of May.

The 19-year-old knows the power of football to bring people together at the toughest times.

So he wanted to get the young footballers motivated, get them moving and improve their mental health.

Each youth team was set the task to run/walk/cycle the furthest distance, with the winner given the chance to train with Cumnock Juniors first team manager, Tony McInally and assistant manager, Mark Cameron.

Jordon told the Chronicle: “As a coach I want to keep players motivated.

“Exercise is so important for your mental health. It helps clear your head. My best pal took his own life in October 2018. Things will never be the same again for his family. I want to make sure no other family feels the same way. My biggest fear is that happening again.”

Players on 11-a -side teams were asked to clock up 5km each week, with coaches also challenged to take part.

By the start of this week, Cumnock Juniors Community Enterprise announced that the club had covered the distance of 1,027 miles the equivalent of travelling from Townhead to Barcelona.

Jordon told the Chronicle: “It’s been fantastic. I just wanted to get everyone outside and get them involved so they are not just spending lockdown sitting in the house playing Xbox.”

“It also improves their mental health, it’s really important we remember that at this time. I want them to go out and get fresh air, it helps clear your head.

“We tried to make it fair across the board as not everyone has bikes. Indoor exercise bikes didn’t count either.”

One family cycled from Drongan to Ardrossan covering 120.11km.

Jordan, who is still working with East Ayrshire Council, added: “It’s been great to see all the scores come in. Hopefully I’ve done something to help others through this difficult time.”