FA Cup qualifying: Curzon Ashton boss on bereavement and psychological well being

Curzon Ashton boss Steve Cunningham along with his daughter Maizie and son Zak

Should you, or somebody you understand, have been affected by any points raised on this article, help and knowledge is out there at BBC Motion Line.

Steve Cunningham knew deep down he shouldn’t have been anyplace close to the away dressing room at Glossop North Finish.

Two days earlier his spouse, Caroline, had given start to their stillbornexternal-link daughter.

For an hour, the couple held their treasured child woman, took pictures of her wrapped in a blanket and advised her how a lot they beloved her earlier than she was taken away.

Cunningham turned to his position as a soccer supervisor to assist him take care of the emotionally traumatic expertise.

Having kissed his daughter goodbye on the Thursday, he was delivering a staff speak on the Saturday to his gamers at Lancashire non-league membership Colneexternal-link earlier than a match at Glossop within the ninth tier of English soccer.

“I used to be attempting to hold on as if nothing had occurred,” Cunningham, now supervisor of Curzon Ashton, tells BBC Sport.

As his Curzon staff put together for an FA Cup third qualifying spherical tie at house to Cleethorpes City on Saturday, Cunningham, 41, talks about how the harrowing expertise prompted him to boost consciousness round males’s psychological well being.

“I am definitely no counsellor or specialist,” he says. “If by telling my story it helps make simply 1% distinction to any individual’s life, I would reasonably assist.”

‘I used soccer as my launch’

Cunningham describes the lack of his daughter on 20 February 2014 because the lowest second of his life.

“We might had plenty of points beforehand with miscarriages,” he says. “As a result of they have been all on the early stage, I by no means let it get to me.

“This was totally different. Seeing your child like that and never having the ability to do something to assist her, it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

A stillbirth is when a child is born lifeless after 24 accomplished weeks of being pregnant. It occurs in round one in each 200 births in England.

If the newborn dies earlier than 24 accomplished weeks, it is called a miscarriage or late foetal loss.

Along with his feelings “everywhere”, Cunningham was desirous to throw himself right into a busy routine.

“I used soccer as my launch,” he says.

“I keep in mind being within the away altering room at Glossop attempting to do a staff speak and it simply hit me.

“The gamers have been treading on egg shells. They did not know what to say. However I wanted soccer at that second.

“Wanting again, I ought to have been at house. I ought to have been grieving.

“My spouse was distraught and heartbroken and had her mum and pop along with her. I assumed ‘what good would it not do, me sat there and each of us crying?’.

“I did not need to be wallowing. I wished to get out and be round individuals. After I assume again, I used to be attempting to dam all of it out.”

Curzon Ashton boss Steve Cunningham
Steve Cunningham has guided Curzon Ashton to 5 wins of their opening seven Nationwide League North video games in 2021-22

‘I left the assembly in tears’

Cunningham says he was “horrible” to be round as he bottled up his feelings whereas fighting bereavement.

In August 2019, his perspective on life modified for the higher.

Having managed Colne since 2013, the place he had 4 totally different spells as a participant, he was invited to provide a chat to an area help group that helps males with psychological well being points.

“I went to speak about being a soccer supervisor, being a household man, and coping mechanisms in terms of coping with stress,” he says.

The Males’s Den Colneexternal-link presents a secure area for males to speak about their emotions.

“I did not absolutely perceive what I used to be letting myself in for,” provides Cunningham, who additionally talked to the group in regards to the lack of his daughter.

“It confirmed me there are many individuals hurting behind closed doorways. Every chap was given a couple of minutes to speak about their week – the nice, the unhealthy and what was on their thoughts.

“Their tales left me in tears but it surely modified my complete notion and understanding of what psychological well being points really are.”

There may be not a day that passes when Cunningham doesn’t take into consideration the lack of his daughter, however he now not hides his emotions and has discovered to open up.

“She could be very a lot in our ideas and in our hearts,” he says.

Steve Cunningham with his son Zak
Steve Cunningham along with his son Zak

‘You aren’t alone’

Since their loss, Cunningham and his spouse have welcomed Maizie, six, to the household, who’s little sister to 10-year-old Zak, who performs at Burnley’s academy.

Throughout lockdown in April 2020, the Curzon boss shared a ‘guess the celebration’ video on YouTube that includes Zak and Maizie, with the three performing out well-known purpose celebrations of their again backyard.

Behind the video is a critical message about males’s psychological well being.

Cunningham, answerable for Nationwide League North Curzon Ashtonexternal-link since June 2020, says: “Being somebody who has skilled the lack of a daughter, any individual who has skilled redundancy, tried to ship cash to my household which brings its personal stresses….lots of people depend upon you and typically you do not get it fairly proper.

“There are too many males who’ve an excessive amount of pleasure to come back out and say they need assistance.

“If anybody is feeling down please converse to somebody. Unfold the phrase – you aren’t alone.”

Should you, or somebody you understand, have been affected by any points raised on this article, help and knowledge is out there at BBC Motion Line.

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