Suffolk man starts football club to support other men who have lost a child

Sands UK charity

Chloe Kizis and Freddie Stevens sadly lost their son during pregnancy this year - Credit: Freddie Stevens

A Bury St Edmunds man has formed a football team for men who have been affected by the loss of a baby.

Freddie Stevens and Chloe Kizis sadly lost their son Noah during pregnancy in January this year.

SANDS Rainbow Walk in Nowton Park and fund raising stall in the ARC Shopping Centre

Sands Rainbow Walk in Nowton Park and fund raising stall in the ARC Shopping Centre - Credit: Andy Abbott

This week, October 9 to 15, marks Baby Loss Awareness Week which raises awareness of pregnancy and baby loss in the UK.

The couple said they had "wonderful" support from West Suffolk Hospital and have also been receiving counselling through Petals charity.

"In general we've been really happy with the support that we've got, we had lots of support from the hospital," Freddie said.

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"But I think for men in particular there's a real lack of support and understanding on where you can go as a man."

Chloe decided to research what was available for Freddie and found Sands United FC, a football team set up by the charity Sands - the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK.

West Suffolk and Bury St Edmunds Sands

Brother in law, George Kizis and Freddie Stevens - Credit: Andy Abbott

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Sands United FC helps dads and other bereaved family members to come together through football and find a support network.

Freddie decided to set up Sands United FC Bury St Edmunds, the 32nd team of its kind in the UK and second in East Anglia alongside Sands United FC Ipswich.

He said: "We've been in the hospital ourselves, we've seen the room occupied by other couples and I think that just made us realise that there must be so many people that go through this even so close to us.

"And that it'll be nice to have one locally so that we can try and help other people."

The group is still looking for another handful of people to join the club so that they can begin playing some friendly games of 5-a-side.

Sands charity stall

The teams also commemorate their babies by proudly displaying their names on the kit worn for every match - Credit: Freddie Stevens

All ages and abilities welcome and as the team grows they hope to be able to participate in charity matches with other similar teams.

Freddie added: "A lot of the time men don't feel comfortable to go to certain settings to talk and I think it's the beauty of football, you don't even need to go and talk, it's just knowing that you're around other people that are going through it.

"You can talk when you're ready. You're not sat in a room of people expected to blurt out your emotions. Just when you're ready, you've got people there who will understand."

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