Former players living with dementia will have the opportunity to reminisce about their careers with fellow ex-professionals as part of a new initiative supported by the Professional Footballers’ Association Charity.
The players’ union is working with the Sporting Memories Foundation to set up weekly clubs, designed to boost the ex-pros’ physical and mental health through the power of gentle exercise and sharing memories.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic it is understood the sessions will be virtual for the time being.
Susie Brindley, the chief operating officer of SMF, said: “We hear time and again from those who attend Sporting Memories Clubs that it becomes the highlight of their week, an anchor, and a time when they meet others in a relaxed environment where what they say is valued and given time.
“Likewise, family members and carers of those who attend Sporting Memories Club feel benefits, in terms of the increased wellbeing of their loved one or simply time for themselves.”
Dawn Astle, from The Jeff Astle Foundation which supports ex-professionals suffering from neurodegenerative disease and a PFA consultant, added: “It’s so important for former players who are suffering with dementia to have a place where they can come together for companionship and friendship and most importantly be in an environment where they can be themselves.
“We have spoken to so many families who say their relatives who have previously been very quiet and withdrawn have ‘burst into life’ at these events as they reminisce about great sporting moments. To have a scheme for former professional footballers is a brilliant idea.”
Volunteers include former Portsmouth goalkeeper Alan Knight, Allan Cockram (Tottenham, Brentford and Reading), Frankie Banks (Hull and Southend), Derek Spence (Bury, Blackpool, Southend and Northern Ireland), Nicky Johns (Charlton, Millwall and QPR), and Guy Butters (Tottenham, Portsmouth, Gillingham and Brighton).
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies