Shelbourne Football Club have teamed up with The Alzheimer Society of Ireland for a series of dementia-inclusive events which begin later today.

The Dublin club wants to increase awareness of dementia, an issue that has become more and more prevalent in the game.

'Football Memories' is a year-long series of sporting reminiscence events which are designed specifically to be enjoyed by people living with dementia.

Shels Media Officer Gavin White said: "The 'Football Memories' initiative is part of our 'Reds Together' community programme. Essentially, the events will be an opportunity for people living with dementia to re-engage with football memories. We want to bring them back to the great days, through legends, stories, quizzes, imagery and video.

"Initially, it will be online, as everything has been for the last year-and-a half. But eventually we will be bringing them into Tolka Park to show them the stadium and bring them through photographs of famous moments."

Danielle Keogh of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland helped the club to design the events to be dementia-inclusive.

She said: "One of the elements that we have incorporated into 'Football Memories' is that every 15 minutes there is something new and engaging, which means you don't have to have a long attention span.

"Reminiscences are just absolutely fantastic. We have seen that they are of huge benefit to people living with dementia.

"Music, for example, is a really great stimulus. It's actually stored in a different part of our brain to where we might store names and dates. So, if someone does have Alzheimer's and they have cognitive difficulties around names and short-term memory, if you start singing Olé, Olé, Olé, they are going to join in."

According to The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, there are 64,000 people with dementia in Ireland.

It estimates that the number of people with the condition will more than double in the next 25 years, to over 150,000 by 2045.

A 2019 study led by the University of Glasgow found that former professional footballers had an approximately three and a half times higher rate of death due to neurodegenerative disease.

Shelbourne FC has been affected by dementia, having lost former players Tony Dunne, Tommy Carroll and Ben Hannigan recently, all of whom lived with the condition after their playing days.

Gavin said: "When we lose people like that you realise the impact that they've had. But then you also realise that living with dementia for the family, the friends, for the club, for people who are around these players is difficult."

The first online 'Football Memories' event is at 4pm, featuring special guest Packie Bonner.

Gavin said: "The first one is quite a big one. Packie Bonner will be the guest legend. He will be bringing people who live with dementia, their families and carers, through those famous nights in Italia '90 and USA '94. There will be a quiz and there will be an opportunity for those living with dementia to ask questions in a really enjoyable environment."

Registration for tonight's event and future events is via shelbournefootballmemories@alzheimer.ie