Dads and Football, a 2-year project funded by the Wellcome Trust, in partnership with Cardiff City Football Club Community Foundation and Cardiff University’s National Centre for Mental Health, was created to support new dads in response to the inadequate provision that is currently available.
Initially taking the format of 5-a-side football, bringing dads together through their love of 'the beautiful game' – the football games were quashed due to the pandemic and quickly replaced by online peer support sessions. Dads and players from Cardiff City, including Will Vaulks (an expectant Dad at the time), joined the groups to discuss how the life change had impacted them. Ninety-one dads were also consulted on their views through an online survey.
I’ve learnt a lot from my involvement in the project. It was a pleasure speaking with those involved about their experiences as fathers, I found it really helpful for my preparations.
I don’t know about you guys but me just coming here and talking has made me realise ‘oh right I’m not the only one that thinks that’ and ‘that goes through my head as well’ and just hearing that comforts you and like I said I’ve come on leaps and bounds through this group. It's just cathartic whether you come and speak or just sit and listen. It’s just quite nice to do it
At least they know they are not alone. In this group there are 10 different people, but it’s just been nice hearing from everyone with different problems and perspectives
Like most projects, Dads and Football had to adapt to the challenges presented by the lockdown. This sadly meant stopping playing football but instead, often using football as a discussion topic, an ice breaker and the basis for engagement during online zoom sessions.
We hope that this project report adds to, or starts, a conversation about the importance of health professionals including and supporting Dads more during the perinatal time.