Blackpool football club supporting men’s mental health opens doors to Ukrainian refugees

A Blackpool-based sports club, which gives dads all over Lancashire a safe space to make friends and break free of the stresses of daily life on the football pitch, is opening its doors to Ukrainian refugees and others born in the country.

By Wes Holmes
Monday, 28th March 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 10:30 am

Team Kickabout, which is based at Chiswick Grove and runs weekly matches in Fleetwood, Kirkham, Warton and Preston, is offering free sessions to all Ukrainian-born dads starting next month as a way of showing support amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The group has also collected supplies, including warm clothes, sanitary products and non-perishable food, to be delivered to the Polish border, where many Ukrainian refugees have fled, next week.

Group co-founder Graham Sims said: “The whole reason for Team Kickabout is to give dads a place of their own. We’ve always been about trying to help dads, and this is just one way we’re trying to help dads who are going through more than others.

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Team Kickabout

“They are going through hell at the moment, worried about back home, so we can give them an hour a week to relax and get their mind off things. It’s not much, but we’re doing what we can to help.”

His co-founder Peter Brooks added: “The truth is, it's an awful situation that none of us can fully comprehend. I feel that if you are in a position to be able to help, even the smallest bit, you do.

"If you can, you give - it should be as simple as that. We have a great group of dads here, many of whom want to help and to be part of something positive.”

Team Kickabout

Team Kickabout was started by Graham, who lives in Preston, in 2016, shortly after the birth of his daughter, Chloe.

He said: “I found myself feeling isolated and wanted to make new friends, so I put out a few posters and got a few dads together, and as the weeks went on it grew bigger and bigger, and started adding more sessions.

"We started to find the guys coming to play were starting to feel better about themselves and form bonds.”

The group now operates in Preston, Blackburn, Bamber Bridge, Skelmersdale, Fylde, Lancaster, and Accrington.

Team Kickabout

"We’ve seen some amazing results. People who have never kicked a ball before not only learning how to play football, but getting fit and making friends with other people,” Graham said. “Even some of our captains have said they didn’t have much of a social life before, and now they’re out every week with players, teaching them how to kick a ball around.

"That feeling of belonging is something is something that not a lot of people get. When you’re out on the pitch twice a week, you’re not a dad or an employee, you don’t have responsibilities or jobs to do. You’re just out on that pitch having fun, having a laugh. It’s kind of empowering.”

If you are a Ukrainian father, or know one who may be interested, email [email protected]

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