Thirteen Scottish senior teams have united to help launch a new UEFA-funded programme geared at supporting people living with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Football Memories project enables people living with dementia to discuss past football events and reminisce about their memories in an environment which they are comfortable.
Aberdeen, Falkirk, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Kilmarnock, Livingston, Partick Thistle, Queens Park, Rangers, Ross County, St Johnstone and St Mirren will now take part in the programme which will run from April 2015 until March 2016.
Former Scotland manager Craig Brown joined Scottish FA Chief Executive Stewart Regan at the Scottish Football Museum to support the launch. Both men said they were delighted to lend their name to such a worthwhile cause.
Stewart Regan said: “This project will really benefit people living with dementia in Scotland and help bring them closer to their community through football.
“As our national sport, football is a constant for so many people in Scotland and I have no doubt this project will help evoke some wonderful memories.
“It’s pleasing to see 13 of our senior clubs get behind this fantastic project and I would like to thank them for their support."
Craig Brown, former Scotland national coach, said: “I am proud to have been invited to help launch what is an excellent initiative and one that shows the importance of Scottish football’s rich history in helping those who suffer from Alzheimer’s.
“Football Memories has had a positive impact on people’s lives already and extending the project to clubs will only help in widening its impact across communities.”
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia; the term dementia describes a set of symptoms which can include loss of memory, mood change and problems with communication and reasoning.
In Scotland there are currently over 90,000 people living with Alzheimer’s disease with over 95% of sufferers over the age of 65.
Throughout the process of the illness, people living with Alzheimer’s become more withdrawn from their local community due to either to a loss in confidence or communication problems.
The Football Memories project will aim to offer help through a series of support networks linked to senior clubs across Scotland.
It will allow the participants to continue to engage with their local community and seek peer and professional support.
Michael White, Football Memories Project Manager, said: "The Football Memories team is delighted to see this new funding from UEFA and this will enable more people living with dementia to rekindle memories of the great players and matches from their past.
“Some of the stories that we are gathering are amazing - like a first-hand account of walking from Glasgow to Fife to be at John Thomson's funeral, the epic Real Madrid versus Eintracht game at Hampden or the games out in the Middle East with Tommy Walker's All Stars.
“The humour and the banter is truly superb and the sheer joy and pleasure in the sessions shows just how much football means to people here in Scotland."
For more information on the Football Memories project and how it supports Alzheimer Scotland, visit www.footballmemoriesleague.co.uk