A dad who formed a football team to support other fathers who had suffered baby loss is to help champion mental health awareness in grassroots football.
Alex Walmsley, the founder of Kirklees-based Sands United West Yorkshire, has joined the Football Mental Health Alliance (FMHA) as an ambassador.
Alex set up Sands United in Huddersfield in 2020 after he and his wife lost three babies in separate pregnancies.
The team offers bereaved fathers and family members a platform to express their grief, find camaraderie and unite over their shared love of football.
Danny Matharu, founder of The Football Mental Health Alliance, said: “As someone who has experienced baby loss myself, I’m thrilled to have Alex and Sands United join our mission.
“Alex’s story, determination and the positive impact of Sands United resonate deeply with our core values.
“In his role as an ambassador, Alex will be pivotal in spearheading campaigns, sharing his invaluable insights and co-creating resources that further our vision to support the collective mental health of the grassroots community.
“Alex is an exemplar of how football can serve as more than a sport; it can be a life-changing platform for mental health support and community bonding.”
Jo de Tute, head of football development at West Riding FA, said: “Football is such a powerful tool in bringing people together. It fosters a sense of community and belonging, as well as providing an identity and purpose for those involved.
“Sands United amplifies this sense of belonging at the point where men need it the most. Having Alex join the FMHA as an ambassador is a positive step and one that will undoubtedly benefit lots of people involved in grassroots football.”
The club’s profound impact did not go unnoticed, with Alex recently winning a national grassroots award, recognising his contribution to grassroots football and men’s mental health.
Alex said he was honoured to be part of FMHA and added: “Together, we aim to make a tangible difference, ensuring no one feels alone in their battles. Sometimes, people can be a bit lost, and we have to find them.”
Designed to seamlessly embed mental health support and education into the very fabric of grassroots football, the FMHA created The Vault, an extensive, continuously evolving digital support platform dedicated to the entire grassroots family.