The special football team where dads can share their loss together

Sands United FC Kent

The death of a baby is an unthinkable tragedy for most people; but for others it would become a terrible reality.

When two football teams stepped onto the pitch at The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic, there was a mixture of both excitement and poignancy. In early May 2022, Sands United FC Kent were invited to play a combined Charlton/Oxleas NHS team on the hallowed turf at the spectacular League One stadium, and for everyone there, either watching or playing, the significance of the match was never far from people’s minds.

Sands is a stillbirth and neonatal charity, supporting bereaved parents and aiming to reduce the number of babies dying in the future. Thoughts naturally go towards the mother when a baby does not survive before, during or soon after their birth, but the grief can be as immense for the dads too.

Sands United FC was formed in 2018, springing from a charity football match at Northampton Town FC organised by Rob Allen with proceeds going to the Sands charity, after he and partner Charlotte lost baby Niamh.  After the success of the match, it was apparent how good football is at forming a bond between bereaved dads, uncles and brothers and the first Sands United FC was formed.

The club began to establish teams across the UK, and Sands United FC Kent was formed by bereaved father Mike Pollard, helping over 50 dads in the Kent area.  Men can struggle to share their feelings, but being part of a football team builds a strong bond between players and it is this trust that can help the dads open up about their baby loss and helping others going through the same.

We interviewed Mike after the game (in which Sands United won 3-2), where he spoke more about the Sands charity, his football team and how it felt to play on such a big stage:

https://vimeo.com/713324461

Find out more

If you want to find out more about Sands, including the various support groups offered, please visit their website at: www.sands.org.uk

Sands United FC Kent also have their own Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/sandsunitedfckent

Published on 1st June 2022