Extra Time: a football themed fatherhood conversation
They say men don’t talk but we think differently. When we get men together in a non-judgemental environment and surrounded by like-minded people, we often don’t have enough time to finish our conversations. At MFF we host conversations with dads about all aspects of parenting – the highs and the lows. Lots of us have amazing experiences as fathers and these need to be celebrated but we also have difficult moments and we need to be able to share those times too. There is a space for clinical health support, of course, and there is a place for consuming useful content, like our resources and podcasts but a major source of support is peer support – meeting other dads who can relate and resonate with what you are saying.
Our new event, ‘Extra Time: a football themed parenting conversation for dads’ is all about the peer support. We will be hosting these events in partnership with different football clubs across the UK, from the Premier League to the grassroots, we’ll be reaching dads all across the country. Our first event was held in partnership with Queens Park Rangers. And we have held events with Brentford FC, Arsenal and Watford.
The event was truly amazing. It was such a supportive group as the dads shared their experiences and perspective. We had dads speaking about being diagnosed with cancer while trying for a baby, being anxious about becoming a new first-time father in the coming weeks, struggles with depression and anxiety, being a single dad to 3 girls under 5 years old and much more. We listened to each other, supported each other and encouraged each other. We know that dads don’t often, if ever, get the opportunity to be part of something like this. Everyone left inspired and ready to carry on doing their best for their families and for themselves.
What makes the Extra Time event so special is that it takes place in a venue that’s poignant to a lot of dads – a football stadium! The first half of the event takes place in one of the meeting rooms in the stadium and then we go out into the stands to continue the conversation while overlooking the pitch. There’s something special about having these discussions while in the stands. This is then followed up with a stadium tour, a talk from one of the club’s players or staff about their experience of being a dad in football and then we finish with a fun football themed quiz based on the clubs history where the winner gets one of our DAD books!
We use a mixture of panel discussions, pair conversations and whole group work to create a really inclusive dynamic where everyone gets to input. The conversations with the group is about fatherhood, mental health and masculinity but they are framed using analogies about football so there is the fun element added in too. At the QPR event many of the dads didn’t know each other before the event as some where from the MFF community and some from the club’s community, but we all left as one group who had shared a special experience together.
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