Today’s blog is from Sands United Bristol FC, to mark Sands Awareness Month.
How long does a football match last? 90 minutes, 120 with extra time. Think of all the things that could happen within that time – your team could reach a cup final. What about off the pitch? You could sit with friends and family and watch a film.
For some though, during the course of that football match their world will be turned upside down. Every day in the UK nearly every 2 hours a family is faced with the devastation of the death of their baby before, during or shortly after birth.
SANDS is the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support charity. It exists to support anyone affected by the death of a baby. Here in Bristol, there is a local Sands support group – Bristol Sands (Bristol.sands.org.uk) who provide that support in a variety of ways. Sadly though, men can often feel isolated and feel that there isn’t support there for them. However, in Bristol there is a unique avenue of support for any man affected by such a loss – Sands United Bristol FC.
We are a football team providing support on and off the pitch. Founded just over 2 years ago it gives men (mainly dads) an outlet for their grief. An opportunity to be around other men and share stories and support each other through tough times – either face to face or using WhatsApp. We are a part of the Bristol Sands support group and are one of 30 Sands United FC teams around the country.
Every player in the team is a part of a club that nobody wants to be a part of, but a club that has the highest cost of membership.
We’ll never know what interests our babies would’ve had as they grew up. For example, would they have been into playing sports. A couple of times a month, at training and in matches, we have a go at answering that question and we play with our babies and for our babies. Each player in the squad plays with a shirt that has very personal meaning to them. It carries their babies name or names and a squad number chosen for them.
We aren’t interested in your football ability, we aren’t interested that the last time you played football was at school (and that’s more years ago than you care to remember!!), we aren’t interested in your level of fitness either.
The football team is only interested in one thing – that you are looking for support!!
If you’ve experienced the death of a baby and are looking for support then please just search for ‘Sands United Bristol’ on any social media channel, or go to our website sandsunitedbristol.com
As one of our players once wrote ‘We play for the best worst team in football’.
We are Sands United Bristol FC