Posted: 27.06.20 at 13:39 by The Editor
A new football team has been formed in Ashby for men who are the bereaved fathers of a young child.
Sands United has been set up by Moira-based Matt Buckley, a care home manager, on Father’s Day.
And it is an offshoot of around 25 similar clubs across England.
Sands describes itself as football team in Ashby for men affected by baby loss, offering a peer support network where they can talk about their bereavement when they are ready.
The original team is based in Northamptonshire and was highlighted by Prince William in a recent documentary discussing men’s health.
Now Sands United FC Ashby has been set up for men in the North West Leicestershire area and beyond.
Matt explained: “Myself and my partner lost our son Jacob four years ago, August, 2016.
“It’s the whole idea that the men have to be strong for the woman and the family.
“But while it’s a lot for the female to deal with after carrying the baby, the male does tend to be forgotten about a little bit.
“There are people out there helping, but not quite as many as there should be.
“There’s a lot of talk around men’s mental health at the moment, and that was the point of the whole Prince William thing.
“It’s a guy thing to do, we’re here to support men and make them relaxed if we can.
“But it’s as much as they want to be supported.
“Some find it difficult to be open and honest about how they’re feeling.
“They don’t want to be a burden on their own family - and we try and take that element away from them.
“We can say ‘Here’s a group of lads who’ve been through the same sort of thing’.
“It’s different circumstances for everyone, but a similar source of feelings.
“Hopefully if it helps one person then we’ve achieved something.”
Matt says he has been encouraged by the reaction since launching less than a week ago.
He added: “We launched last Sunday, Father’s Day. I felt that was appropriate.
“We then set up a Facebook page which has over over 100 likes and three guys approached me to join straight away.
“There’s one at Loughborough and Leicester which is a hour’s round trip from here for a training session on a Wednesday night.
“To me, the more clubs the better.”
Matt says the club will be kept local and said: “We’ll have a base in Ashby.
“We’ve had a lot of support form Ashby Ivanhoe who’ve been really good.
“Hood Park five a side pitches are also an option.
“It’s all about getting people together, we need numbers to progress. But we’ve been offered two friendlies already.
“If in a year’s time we’ve got 20 lads who want to take it that way, then that’d be brilliant and we’d want people to come and support us.
“Initially, we’ll meet up, have a kick around then go somewhere relaxed afterwards.”
But Matt says there is no need for anyone to be able to play the game.
He added: “It’ll probably be the least judgemental club around.
“Colour, age, size, weight, if you want to kick a ball around for two minutes then fine, if you want to talk about things, fine, if not, that’s fine too.
“Just been around the guys and talk to other people is fantastic and we’ll have a WhatsApp group as well.
“If it’s the anniversary of your baby’s death and you’re struggling on that day, everyone will be there to support you.
“If we can get it off the ground in Ashby and Burton area, that’d be good. There’s been a real community spirit so far. But it’s early stages.
“You can find contact details on our Facebook page Sands United