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  • Jimi Reynolds

Football team supporting bereaved fathers seeks new players

A men's football team that provides support to fathers who have suffered the loss of a baby before, during or shortly after birth are recruiting dad's who have had a similar experience to join their football team.

Sands United Bristol FC, who take their name from the SANDS (stillbirth and neonatal death) charity are seeking players who are looking for a way to get together with others.

Sands United Bristol FC team manager Peter Byrom said "The concept behind the football team is to provide an avenue of support for men affected by the loss of a baby, traditionally men will try and be the solid dependable ones, especially when a baby dies, meaning men often don't have the opportunity to deal with the grief of losing a baby. The football team provides a support system, a safe environment for guys to be able to deal with their grief and to talk about their stories with other guys"

Sands United Bristol FC

The concept behind the football team comes from the original Sands United which was started in 2018 by Rob Allen, after he and his wife lost their daughter Niamh. There are now over a dozen teams across the country aimed at supporting men's mental health through football.

Peter says "The shirts players wear on the field are unique to every player with each of us choosing our own squad number, my number is 27, because it represents how many weeks we were in the pregnancy when our son Thomas was born sleeping".

Peter Byrom in his "27" football shirt

"We'll never know if our children might have played football, we are left with a lifetime of 'what if's', but for 90 minutes we get to play with and for our children"

Some of the Sands United teams around the country play in leagues. In Bristol where the team is based, though many of the players come from Weston, they are more of a social team. When not in lockdown they play once a month, often against teams they play regularly, and train twice a month. Before each training session and each game they hold a minutes silence to remember their babies.

If you are interested in finding out more about the team then you can contact Peter Byrom at

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health then you can contact Samaritans; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 116 123 (free from any phone) or email



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