A Dons-man football fan who is the star of a video documenting his fight against dementia hopes it can help others with the condition.
Malcolm Steele, 56, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago.
The well-known former coach, who helped set up Cove Boys’ Club so his twin sons Keith and Paul, now 21, had a team to play for, now attends Football Memories sessions organised monthly by the Aberdeen FC Community Trust (AFCCT) and Alzheimer Scotland.
Malcolm, who still participates in walking football sessions aimed at over-50s and regularly attends Dons games, was selected to take part in the short film after being made aware of it through Football Memories.
It was made as part of UEFA’s #EqualGame initiative, which aims to promote inclusion and diversity, and since it was published on the Dons’ social media channels, it has been viewed more than 25,000 times.
Malcolm’s wife Tracy said: “We spent two days with the crew and they were such lovely people. When I first saw it I was in tears. It was straight to the heart.
“It still gives me goosebumps. I can’t believe how well they’ve captured it. It’s reached so many people and the reaction has been so positive.
“UEFA haven’t even released it yet – it’s only gone through Aberdeen and yet it’s reached 25,000 people. It’s unbelievable.”
What is #EqualGame?
Everyone should be able to enjoy football. No matter who you are, where you’re from or how you play. That’s Equal Game. And this is life-long Dons fan Malcolm’s story……….. @UEFA @AFCCT pic.twitter.com/gQt4W1sgdD
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) April 30, 2019
Former papermill worker Malcolm and Tracy, 47, believe the project has been really good for him.
Malcolm said: “Football has been a massive part of my life.
“I played at amateur level and once I gave that up I helped set up a team for my sons. I’ve also been an Aberdeen fan and I’ve always loved going to Pittodrie.
“I was devastated when I got the diagnosis and it was a really tough thing to try and come to terms with.”
Tracy added: “We found out about Football Memories through Alzheimer Scotland.
“Malcolm really enjoys going along and he always comes out with a smile on his face.”
At the sessions, people can talk about their experiences, share memorabilia and also get visits from former players.
Malcolm said: “I really enjoy being with the other members of the group. There’s a lot of banter and that lifts my spirits.
“I’ve met so many people through it and it’s really nice.
“It has made such a positive difference to my life.
“I feel the video is important because it will let people know that services like that are out there for them.”
David Smith, AFCCT’s senior community projects officer, added: “Football Memories really helps people engage with special memories. It’s a much-needed project and helps people make friends and feel part of the club and the community.”
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Sarah Duff, Alzheimer Scotland’s South Aberdeenshire manager, added: “Alzheimer Scotland’s football memory groups in Aberdeen have been a big success and we thank all those involved for their continued support.
“Football holds a special place in Scottish life and fans and communities often have a strong emotional connection with the football clubs they support.
“We have seen first-hand the power of this connection in supporting people with dementia who participate in football reminiscence activities.
“More than 200 groups now meet on a regular basis across the country.
“They use old football images, artefacts and sensory objects to stimulate memories and encourage discussions.”