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West Bridgford dad launches football team to support fathers affected by baby loss

In the UK, it is estimated that one in four pregnancies end in loss during pregnancy or birth.

What can only be described as every parent’s worst nightmare is, heartbreakingly, the reality of far too many.

Raj Chagger, of West Bridgford, is one of those parents facing this reality.

Along with his wife Sharan, Raj welcomed a baby boy into the world in April 2020 – they named him Riaan. Riaan very sadly, and unexpectedly, passed away in November 2020, aged just 7 months old.

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Since losing Riaan, his parents have devoted their time to raising awareness of baby loss, breaking the stigma and silence associated with it and raising funds for hospitals and charities that care for sick babies and for bereaved parents.

They do this via their baby loss awareness project ‘Riaan Remembers’ (Instagram @riaan_remembers). This project has raised over £30,000 to date and was awarded the Prime Minister’s ‘Point of Light’ award in August 2021.

A particular focus for Raj has been raising awareness of the impact of baby loss on dads.

Raj talks openly about his experience of losing Riaan and has worked with baby loss charities (Tommy’s, Sands) on creating safe spaces for men to discuss their loss.

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There is a stereotypical perception that men don’t want to talk about their feelings, but it is so important that they are shown that they can, should they need/want to.

Now, Raj has worked with the leading baby loss charity, Sands, which exists to reduce the number of babies dying and to support anyone affected by the death of a baby, before, during or shortly after birth; to create Sands United Football Club – Nottingham.

The first Sands United Football Club was established in 2018 and, since forming, teams all over the country have been regularly featured in the media and, in December 2018, Sands United FC received the Pride of Sport award for Best Team.

Sands United FC is a unique way for dads and other bereaved family members to come together through a shared love of sport and find a support network where they can feel at ease talking about their grief when they’re ready.

If you, or any dads you know, have been impacted by any form of baby loss and would like to join or find out more, then please reach out to Raj, at the contact details below. All skill levels are welcome.

This is about so much more than football, this is a support network first. It is a place for men experiencing the most heart-breaking events that any parent could ever go through, to come together for support. Dads can sometimes over overlooked, or struggle to find resources tailored to them; but the hope is that, by building bonds and connections with other dads, together we can pull each other through and help break the silence around baby loss.

If you would like to find out more, please contact Raj on:

Email: sufcnottingham@gmail.com

Instagram: @sandsunitedfcnottingham

Facebook: Sands United FC Nottingham

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