Football fans urged to kick off dementia initiative

VERY REWARDING: Remembering football anecdotes can help dementia sufferers feel like their old selves again.
VERY REWARDING: Remembering football anecdotes can help dementia sufferers feel like their old selves again.

MATCH MEMORIES of the beautiful game are being sought to raise awareness of a condition that affects nearly a million people in the UK.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, and to mark the event Alzheimer Scotland’s Football Memories project is inviting fans to share their stories of past World Cups, international games or trips they have taken to support their teams around the world.

The charity is asking fans young and old to work together to send in their World Football Memories and stories, even - but not only - by Twitter or Facebook.

Around 800,000 UK citizens currently suffer from dementia - a figure that is expected to rise to more than a million within the next nine years.

Symptoms can include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning, and occur when the brain is damaged by certain diseases - including Alzheimer’s - and damage caused by a series of small strokes.

Football Memories is a reminiscence project for football fans with dementia across Scotland. The charity, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, works in partnership with the Scottish Football Museum to train volunteers to use football nostalgia to stimulate memories.

“Remembering great moments in football history can light up the day for a fan who is living with dementia,” says Alistair Fergusson, development co-ordinator of Football Memories. “They become their old selves again, chatting away about goals and offside decisions.

“Sharing football stories, listening and encouraging them to remember can be very rewarding for family, friends and carers too.”

Thanks to over £75,000 funding from the People’s Postcode Trust Dream Fund Football Memories is now rolling out their volunteer training project nationally.

And with Football Memories groups meeting across the country, staff say it is becoming a huge success.

Internet-savvy football fans and their supporters are being encouraged share their stories online through Alzheimer Scotland’s Football Memories website, www.footballmemories.org.uk, Facebook, or Twitter - using the hashtag #worldfootballmemories.

Alternatively, contact Alistair Fergusson, Development Co-ordinator, Football Memories, Alzheimer Scotland, c/o Scottish Football Museum, Hampden Park, Glasgow G42 9BA.

To find out more about dementia, including for advice on symptoms and support, visit www.alzheimers.org.uk.