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  1. ITV Report

Football team for grieving fathers wins at Pride of Sport Awards

A football team for men who have lost children through stillbirth or miscarriage has been named Team of the Year at the prestigious Pride of Sport Awards.

Sands United was formed earlier this year by Rob Allen, who got the idea after organising a charity football match in aid of neonatal death charity Sands.

He and his wife Charlotte's daughter Niamh was stillborn last year. "Men, historically, don't talk about feelings - about how they feel or why they feel that way," he said.

"They don't really like sharing. And that's something we're trying to change. "The more we talk about it, the less of a strange, taboo subject it becomes."

Sands United won 'Team of the Year'. Credit: ITV News

Now, Sands Utd is something of a support group for grieving fathers, encouraging them to talk about their experiences instead of bottling their feelings up - which can often lead to depression.

Every game is dedicated to their children, and the names of their lost babies are stitched onto their shirts.

"I was suicidal when we lost my daughter," one player, John Britten, said.

"I just didn't want to be here. I wasn't myself, I lost my confidence.

"And the lads helped me. They just made me 'me' again."

His sentiments were echoed by fellow player Leon Gavin, 25, who lost his son Nolan at 36 weeks. He said he would like to see other Sands Utd teams around the country.

"All passion and everything for me kind of died," he said.

"I just wanted to curl up in a ball and stay cocooned away from the outside world.

"I went back to work and I lasted an hour before I just crumbled."

But thanks to Sands, he said, he has mememtoes of his son that he's able to keep.

The team has also raised more than £5,000 for the charity.