International Men's Day 2021: Supporting New Dads

19 November 2021

Dads and Football, a two-year project funded by the Wellcome Trust, in partnership with Cardiff City Football Club Community Foundation and Cardiff University’s National Centre for Mental Health, was created to support new Dads in response to the inadequate provision that is currently available.

Matt Lawrence, a Father who took part in the project, said: "I don’t know about you guys but me just coming here and talking has made me realise ‘oh right I’m not the only one that thinks that’ and ‘that goes through my head as well’ and just hearing that comforts you and like I said I’ve come on leaps and bounds through this group. It's just cathartic whether you come and speak or just sit and listen."

Initially taking the format of 5-a side football, bringing Dads together through their love of the beautiful game – the football games were quashed due to the pandemic and quickly replaced by online peer support sessions.

Dads and players from Cardiff City including Will Vaulks, (an expectant Dad at the time), joined the groups to discuss how the life change had impacted them. 91 Dads were also consulted on their views through an online survey.

Will said: “I’ve learned a lot from my involvement in the project. It was a pleasure speaking with those involved about their experiences as fathers, I found it really helpful for my preparations.”

Cardiff City midfielder Will Vaulks was heavily involved in the project

The survey conducted through the Dads and Football project found that 70% of Dads want more information on what to expect when becoming a Dad. In response to the need expressed by Dads, the Foundation teamed up with the Fatherhood Institute to create ‘Becoming Dad’, a useful guide for new dads containing the most up-to-date research and information, lots of practical tips, advice, and signposts to many organisations that can help when various issues arise.

Foundation Director, Gavin Hawkey, said: “Football creates connections. Cardiff City FC Foundation was pleased to play a role in bringing Dad’s together to talk. As a father myself, I enjoyed sharing experiences with others. We look forward to working with Mental Health Foundation.”

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