The PFA Charity has announced a partnership with the Sporting Memories Foundation, the charity that tackles dementia, loneliness and depression through the power of sport – to offer practical support to former players who are living with dementia. These players will have the opportunity, beginning in March, to attend weekly Sporting Memories Clubs run by volunteers who are themselves former professional players.
At the heart of the work of Sporting Memories lies using the power of sporting reminiscence and gentle physical activity to increase overall wellbeing, including for those who live with dementia. Coming together for companionship and friendship with people who have common interests and experiences – in this case professional football – has proven, lasting benefits, including increased cognitive resilience and overall wellbeing.
Brendon Batson, PFA Charity, says: “By establishing weekly Sporting Memories Clubs that are for former players, we will be creating an environment where those who come along feel they can relax and simply be themselves. The Sporting Memories sessions will be supported by volunteers – both from the PFA Charity and former professional players – who today have begun the Sporting Memories volunteer training programme.”
Susie Brindley, Chief Operating Officer of the Sporting Memories Foundation in England, says: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the PFA Charity, offering practical support for former players living with dementia. And today we are welcoming both PFA Charity staff and former professional players onto our volunteer training programme, so that they may support the delivery of sessions. Sporting Memories is in its tenth year, and over this time we have supported hundreds of people living with dementia, other long-term conditions, or are simply feeling in need of companionship. This includes former professional sportspeople across a range of sports.
“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, The Jeff Astle Foundation and PFA Consultant, says: “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.” [continues]
Former players taking part in today’s Sporting Memories volunteer training include Alan Knight MBE (Portsmouth), Allan Cockram (Spurs, Brentford and Reading), Frankie Banks (Hull City and Southend United), Derek Spence (Bury, Blackpool, Southend United and Northern Ireland, Nicky Johns (Charlton Athletic, Millwall and QPR), and Guy Butters (Spurs, Portsmouth, Gillham and Brighton & Hove Albion).