Former players to take part in dementia football festival

More than 60 football players from care homes in Glasgow will take part in the event on Monday.

Former players to take part in dementia football festival iStock

Players from care homes will join former football stars at Glasgow’s first ever dementia football festival.

More than 60 players from eight care homes and projects across the city will take part in the event at Toryglen Regional Football Centre on Monday.

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown, ex-player Gordon Smith and former referee John Rowbotham are also among those attending the dementia football festival, which has been organised by Glasgow Life.

Research in recent years has discovered a link between football and dementia, with the Field study in 2019 finding that professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the general population.

The festival comes as tributes are paid to Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld, whose death aged 83 was announced on Sunday, five months after his family said that he was suffering from dementia.

Those taking part in the festival will be able to try a circuit of activities including a special “Reminiscing” station supported by Football Memories Scotland, a “Touch” station where they can try out table football and beating the goalie, and the opportunity to take part in a game.

Mr Brown said: “You’ll struggle to find someone in Glasgow who hasn’t played football at some point in their life but, sadly, we tend to fall away from it as we get older or health issues take hold.

“We all know the benefits of keeping fit and health and, with more and more research coming out about how physical activity can benefit those with dementia, it’s brilliant to see Glasgow Life putting programmes like this into motion and really trying their best to help everyone who is affected by dementia – including the carers.”

The festival is being part-funded by an award from Life Changes Trust, a charity which invests in and supports the empowerment and inclusion of people living with dementia, and unpaid carers of those with dementia.

Glasgow Life has recently started a Walking Football programme for those suffering from dementia disorders, offering them the opportunity to play the game at a slower pace.

Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life and depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “While our city is renowned for being an incredible host for major international sporting events, it’s days like today which really prove why we’re a top-class sporting city.

“Providing opportunities for everyone to play sport, regardless of their background or any impairments, is what Glasgow does best.

“Seeing the joy on the faces of participants and hearing first-hand about how our Dementia Walking Football programme provides social interaction and reduces feelings of isolation just goes to show that people really do make Glasgow.”

Arlene Crockett, director of evidence and influencing with the Life Changes Trust Dementia Programme, welcomed the festival.

She said: “Many people living with dementia stop taking part in activities that may have given them pleasure in the past, or which allowed them to mix with their peers.

“This project brings people together in a dementia friendly community, where they have opportunities to be part of something that is meaningful to them, and which focuses on what they can do rather than what they can’t.”

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