Men form football team to help with grief of losing baby

Men form football team to help with grief of losing baby

5 February 2020

THE love of football is helping men deal with the grief of losing a baby before, during or after birth.

Downpatrick man Pat Moore has teamed up with personal trainer John Fegan from Rostrevor to form 

the first Sands United County Down team.

The team plays its first match against County Down Masters at the end of the month.

Sands is a Northern Ireland charity which provides support to bereaved parents who have lost a baby either through miscarriage, stillbirth or within days or weeks of birth.

Both men were helped by Sands when they lost babies before birth and admit they have struggled to deal with their own loss while supporting their partners.

By coming together to play the sport they love, Pat, who’s better known locally as chairman of Celtic Bhoys FC, hopes that it will help him and other men find support and understanding with other men 

who are going dealing with the same thing.

The 36 year-old father of two said that he and his partner lost a much wanted baby during pregnancy nearly two years ago. 

“Once we knew we were going to have our first baby together, we were so happy about it and immediately began to plan for its arrival,” said Pat.

“I expect a lot of men are the same but at the time it happened I had to step up and do all the organising while supporting my partner who was just devastated. When your partner is lying in hospital like that, all you want to do is to take the pain away but, at the same time, you have to put on a brave face for everyone involved.”

While the team is about football, Pat hopes that the members will be able to socialise after matches and share their experiences.

Pat and seven of his friends are also fundraising for Sands by running in the Carlingford half marathon in March and the Belfast Marathon in May.

He connected with John Fegan, whose family used to live in Downpatrick, on Facebook after John announced his intention to create the football team.

John and his fiancee Kathryn Cole lost their first baby, Faith, at around 16 weeks into the pregnancy three years ago, although they are now parents to two children, Jude and Matilda.

Like Pat, the 30 year-old knows the importance of physical activity and sport to help with mens’ mental health and being able to cope with the loss of baby in this way.

He said: “I was encouraged to do this when I realised there were other Sands football teams in Northern Ireland but none for County Down.

“This is for fathers, uncles, brothers, grandfathers, cousins, whatever men who have been affected by the loss of a child. We share that we are united by angels, which is our motto.”

John said that there are now over 30 men who have joined the club and he and Pat hope to welcome more throughout the year. 

The first match will be held at Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch on Friday, February 28  at 7pm. Men who have been affected by the loss of a child are invited to come along to spectate.

Further details can be found on the Sands United County Down Facebook page.