Sports and charity have always gone side by side, with many different sports opting to compete in many ‘not-for-profit’ organisation games to raise funds for chosen charities. Universities are now getting involved with their own football teams, such as the UCFB charity game that was held to raise money for Children in Need on 23rd November. With players having to individually bid for their place, a minimum of £2.50 was set. Student Nick Pratt bid £23 for his position of centre half. “Its a lucky number of mine, and its going to a good cause in Children in Need” Nick said when asked why he bid such a generous amount. But UCFB aren’t the only organisation hosting a charity game this year…
“The Game of Remembrance is about commemoration and football, friendship and rivalry – and two nations with a shared passion for the Soldier’s Game” – BAFC
On November 16th 2016, League 1 side Burton Albion Football Club held a charity match at the Pirelli Stadium, called ‘The Game of Remembrance’ commemorating 100 years since the end of the Battle of Somme. The match was between teams from the British and German army, raising money for their military charities, including the Royal British Legion. Long-standing supporter of the British Legion Bobby Charlton was also in attendance at the game and many VIP guests from the Armed Forces. Nigel Powlson, Media manager at Burton Albion said that it was quite a lengthy process, taking 6 months of meetings to set up the various aspects of the game such as the PR campaign, ticketing arrangements, ground safety, hospitality packages and sponsorships. There were more than 1,100 spectators at the game with over 200 people paying for hospitality. The game has become such a success its now an annual thing, alternating between Germany and the UK, with Germany winning this one 2-1. Members of the team are serving members of the military; Britain’s coach was WO1 Simon Bell and the team captain was Lance Corporal Rob Farkins who serves in the Royal Signals, and the German coach/team captain was OstFw/Chief Master Sergeant Olaf Bahne. Powlson said it was a great success; there was a marching band on the pitch and the Last Post was played before kick off. The figures have not yet been announced but it is expected to have raised quite a lot of money for the armed forces charities.
Football isn’t the only sport to do such incredible things for charities. Rugby player Steve Prescott was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2006. He gave up rugby and started The Steve Prescott Foundation, with all proceeds going to his chosen charities in The Christie Cancer Hospital and Try Assist. The first major event was a 199 mile walk by 13 rugby club committee’s, raising £60,000 for the foundation. Many sports people are also getting involved, spending their time developing hospitals, homes and schools such as Arsenal’s Mikael Silvestre founded Schools for Hope in 2005 to build schools in impoverished parts of the world.
Sport is helping to transform lives, and with it only getting bigger, the benefits can only become greater.