Alzheimer's Society - The FA's official charity partner as shown at Wembley Stadium

Alzheimer’s support for Sussex football

Alzheimer’s Society launches crucial programme to support footballers and coaches in Sussex

We have partnered with the Alzheimer’s Society to offer help and hope to anyone who has been diagnosed with dementia or caring for a loved one in the county.

As part of the charity’s national partnership with The FA, support schemes have been launched in almost half (21) of the counties where it governs football in England.

The new referral pathways into Alzheimer’s Society services make it easier and quicker for players, coaches, referees and staff in Sussex to access support or guidance needed when concerns arise about themselves or a loved one.

Members will benefit from practical and emotional support from Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Advisers, who provide practical advice, emotional support and guidance for the best next step. Alzheimer’s Society services have been used more than 4.2 million times in the past year across the UK, proving to be a lifeline for thousands.

Our Project Manager, Paul Saunders, said: “The partnership with Alzheimer’s Society will enable us to better support our members when concerns are raised. Anyone involved with football across the county can be referred towards Alzheimer’s Society for memory assessments or further guidance.

“My mother had dementia, so I understand the difficulties families face. I completed Alzheimer’s Society training and wanted to lead on this programme to increase awareness so anyone in the Sussex football sphere knows where to turn if they need support for themselves, friends or relatives.

“Based on my own experience, having support from people who really understand the disease and can empathise is vital when navigating through someone’s dementia journey. Sussex County FA are happy to be that first comforting contact for anyone within our football community.

“Not everyone with symptoms seeks a memory assessment soon enough, but we hope this acts as an extra pathway for people in Sussex to step forward. 

“Admitting you have concerns and seeking an assessment is daunting. But if a person’s first discussion is with the Sussex County FA in an environment they feel comfortable, it may reassure them about the process.

“This initiative will allow people to have difficult but necessary initial conversations with fellow football people in a relaxed space.”

An FA qualified coach, Horsham resident Stan Morris, 75, is affected by dementia. His wife Candy insists the referral pathway will help others from the football community now, and in the future.

She explained: “When I met Stan, he was a qualified FA coach. He trained and learned alongside Manchester City legend, Mike Summerbee. The referral pathway will be fantastic because if you have the support and backing of an organisation you feel comfortable in, someone could open up who might not feel comfortable doing so to their nearest and dearest relatives.

“Sussex County FA have many male members, and I understand the issue of opening up about dementia is an issue among men, as they are too proud and don’t always seek help. But having the scheme under The FA’s umbrella with people they trust, could help spark conversations. Their football friends will also know them in a different and sometimes deeper way to their families, so can encourage people to go down the path towards help.

“It took Stan two years to acknowledge to me that he needed a memory assessment. Hopefully, this allows everyone involved with football in Sussex to have conversations and seek support rather than suffer in silence while symptoms get worse.”

Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, Kate Lee, added: “Sport should be unforgettable. We want to make sure those who are part of the beautiful game are not sidelined due to their diagnosis and can continue to live fulfilled and meaningful lives by receiving the right support from day one.

“No-one should face a dementia diagnosis alone, or suffer in silence, which is why we are proud to be working closely with the Sussex County FA to embed our services and make sure thousands more have somewhere to turn to during one of the most frightening and toughest times in their lives.”

The partnership with Alzheimer’s Society is also raising funds for support services. Alzheimer’s Society will work with The FA to provide research expertise and ensure The FA is prioritising and funding world-class research to best protect players for generations to come. The charity has also directly funded its own research with former football and rugby players, as part of the PREVENT study.

To find out more about Alzheimer’s Society’s partnership with The FA, or donate, visit alzheimers.org.uk/FA

Anyone worried about their memory can download the Alzheimer’s Society symptoms checklist, endorsed by the Royal College of GPs, to support people to get a diagnosis.

For queries regarding Alzheimer’s Society events, fundraising, donations or any other general enquiries please contact:

Alzheimer’s Society
T: 0330 333 0804