Northampton grassroots football team for grieving dads release charity football match tickets
A special team of dads who have lost their babies, either during pregnancy or after birth, are doing something remarkable to remember them and raise money for charity at the same time.
SANDS United was started by dads devastated by the deaths of their children during pregnancy or shortly after birth, in Spring last year.
The team was put together to provide a sanctuary for men who have been affected by the loss of a child and to harness the power of physical activity in helping with mental health and allows men to talk freely among other men who have shared the same experience.
To raise money for the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) - the grassroots football team are this May hosting a family fun day and charity match at Kettering Town Football Club against the 'special 11'.
Former Saints player, Paul Diggin, and current Cobblers captain, David Buchanan, will be playing as part of the opposition.
Team player Nick Hilliker, who is behind organising the event with founder Rob Allen and their wives Sarah and Charlotte, said: "This is an opportunity for us to raise even more money and we will be playing against a special 11.
"The [teams] badge was designed by another father who lost his son Arthur, who lives in Doncaster. He will be joining us too, in May."
Founder Rob Allen, 32, lost his daughter Niamh back in October 2017 after she sadly died in the womb three days before she was due.
Rob organised a charity match at Sixfields last May and brought together a team of other fathers who had lost their children to stillbirth and neonatal complications.
Each game is dedicated to their children and the players have the names of their lost babies embroidered on their football shirts next to their hearts.
Many of the players bottled up their feelings, suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but through the club the players have developed a support network and finally feel able to open up about their loss.
Last year the team of dads took home the Team of the Year Award at the Mirror’s Pride of Sport Awards.
Since the SANDS United teamed up last year and launched their football team, 32 teams around the UK have since created an 11-a-side team.
Nick added: "We play for and represent our angels and the 15 babies that die every day.
"We want to raise awareness that men hurt too and show there is support available that doesn't just have to be in a group meeting."
All money raised at the charity game will be donated to SANDS Stillbirth and neonatal Death Society.
All donations will support their vision of a world where fewer babies die and helping to ensure every bereaved family, wherever they live in the UK, get the care and support they need for as long as they need it.
All tickets will be sold through Sands United social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter @Sandsunited.