A FOOTBALL club in Warwickshire is providing support to bereaved dads.
Sands United – which began life in Northampton – is a Sunday league football team raising money for the stillbirth and neo-natal death charity (Sands).
The club aims to bring together dads and other family members to play on for the babies they have lost as well as building a support network where men can feel at ease talking about their grief.
Players also commemorate their babies’ lives by displaying their names on the kit worn for every match.
The first Sands United FC was formed after Charlotte and Rob Allen’s baby daughter Niamh died in 2017 at just under 40 weeks.
The couple vowed to do all they could to ensure her legacy lived on, and Rob’s love of football led to him organising a match at Northampton Town FC in aid of Sands.
Kenny Harrison, who lives in Wellesbourne, manages the Warwickshire team, which has grown from two to 20 dads in the last few months.
He said: “After the support I’ve received to help through the process of losing my son, I’d like to offer other people that benefit of not being alone. It’s okay not to be okay.
“The Inspiration of the Northampton team has given me a focus at Sands United FC Warwickshire to be able to set something up for a different district.
“Sadly, the death of a baby is not a rare event and every 90 minutes in the UK – the length of a football match – a baby dies shortly before, during or soon after birth.
“When a baby dies the feelings of loneliness and isolation can be overwhelming and having other bereaved parents to talk to is vital, but dads can sometimes be overlooked or struggle to find ways of getting support that suits them.
“Playing team sports can aid the grieving process by helping lift someone’s mood, give them a focus, help with sleep problems, and reduce feelings of isolation. “Sands United FC has already saved the lives of men left feeling like they had no one to turn to in their grief.”
The team trains in Radford Semele on Wednesdays from 7pm to 8pm.
Search Sands United FC Warwickshire on Facebook for more details.