Yesterday afternoon I visited the Football Memories exhibition at Hamilton Central Library. The project is coordinated by the Scottish Football Museum, Sports Heritage Scotland and Alzheimer’s Scotland who are working together to create a network of football memories which will help to fight the battle against dementia.
The Football Memories project was set up in 2008, and utilizes group discussions, still images, memorabilia, and short film clips about football to stimulate recall in people with Alzheimer’s. These group discussions are led by trained volunteers who spend time with dementia sufferers who have long admired the game of football. The volunteers share images, stories, and memorabilia from former players and favourite teams in the hope of triggering personal memories. The workshops aren’t exclusive to dementia sufferers, rather they are open to all, particularly those who may be lonely or isolated.
The project comes to life through its incredible volunteer work force and through the Football Memories website. The online source offers a comprehensive database of unique and personal stories from fans around the world. The long-term goal of the project is to eventually collate a book which gives access to an entire spectrum of personal, and inspired memories.
The volunteers coordinating the Football Memories clinics really put on a show! They have great enthusiasm and some fantastic stories to tell. The story telling is really something, and is great fun for any football fan. Whether you’re a Bully wee or a Hibee, there is something for everyone.
There are currently over 130 Memories groups in Scotland, and there is great access to these groups through social media. The Football Memories Scotland Facebook page is full of information, including contact details and website information, and gives an insight into some of the work that will be looked at within the group discussions.
Memories, of course, form a crucial part of our being. They allow us to perform behaviours, and communicate with loved ones. The purpose of the Football Memories project is to encourage those with dementia, or indeed any one suffering with some degree of memory recall, to boost self-confidence, morale, and self-esteem.
There is sadly no cure for dementia but the Football Memories clinics stimulate emotive feelings and memories, most of which are a reminder of happier, or indeed more youthful times in the sufferer’s life. Carers, and sufferers alike, have noted the positive impact the project has had on dementia sufferers, notably in their self-confidence and communication. Football Memories has offered the chance for people to re-connect with their healthy and happy mind, and in doing so has allowed the sufferer to re-connect with their family and friends who care for and love them.
I spent the afternoon browsing the memorabilia on show and as I walked around the room I found that the objects on display had a profound effect on me. In my early twenties, addicted to technology, I found myself not looking down at my phone but rather I was engaged in a full-on football discussion with a gentleman who had attended the European Cup final at Hampden in 1960 between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt. Real Madrid won 7 – 3 in front of 127,000 spectators at our own national stadium. He even recalled being at both semi-final home and away legs when Rangers were beaten 12 – 4 on aggregate by the German side. Now if I was hooked knowing maybe only one or two of the Real Madrid players, you can imagine what someone with dementia might gain from having such an inspired conversation. The volunteer, a big Rangers fan, I believe his name was Billy (no joke!), was great fun and was telling story after story after story!
The Football Memories project is fun, informative, rich, enlightened, and pure dead brilliant! It really is for everyone. At its core, the principle of the project is to share and record some of the greatest football stories that have been experienced through the lives of dedicated football fans. To sit, listen and relax whilst engaged in a memory group or to talk, share and recall whilst in a memory group is truly a wonderful experience, it’s no wonder I walked out that room today feeling ten feet tall.
A marvelous project, coordinated by fantastic volunteers.
Please get involved. Join a group. Lead a group. Simply come along and listen, I promise you it is so worth the journey.
You can follow Football Memories on Twitter @FblMemories and on Facebook @FootballMemoriesScotland.
Please like, follow and share this tremendous project.