Sands United is a squad of 34 men who have, whether as a father or other family member, experienced the loss of a child.
The Northampton, England–based football club began in 2018 when a charity match was arranged to raise funds for Sands, a child bereavement organization, in memory of team captain Rob Allen’s daughter Niamh. The game was such a success that a few of the players talked about taking it forward and making football a weekly thing in the lives of bereaved men.
Fast-forward a couple months and Sands United was beginning to take shape. Ten men took to the training field for the first time, word quickly spread and more players were recruited as more men affected by loss decided not to hide from their bereavement but instead come together in a very public way. The team is now 34 members strong and growing.
Sands United aims to use football to break the silence on the taboo subject of child loss. Embroidered on each player’s shirt is the name of the angel the team member is playing for, and supporters from across the U.K. have purchased replica shirts with their angels’ names printed on them.