NHS hospitals from across London have been invited to partner with some of the capital’s most iconic football clubs to take part in a 6-a-side football tournament as a thank you for their amazing work throughout the last eighteen months.
To show their support and gratitude to NHS staff in London, football charity London United, 14 football club community organisations from the capital, and the 11 Foundation (set up by former professional footballer Joe Cole and his wife Carly) have joined forces to organise the tournament.
To select Palace’s team, the club put on a tournament in June for local NHS staff, which was won by a team from St Helier. It was a chance for the participants to catch up with friends – one participant said: “This is the first time I’ve seen some of my colleagues without a mask on for over a year!”
The special tournament will take place on Sunday, 5th September at Gunnersbury Park Sport Hub and will feature both a men’s and women’s tournament. The clubs will field teams selected from a number of London’s NHS Trusts to compete against each other for the United for NHS in London trophy.
The tournament is an opportunity to celebrate the work of London’s NHS staff as well as build on and strengthen partnerships between the professional football clubs and their local hospitals, and to promote the importance of being physically active and adopting healthy lifestyles.
Football clubs have been twinned up with London hospitals to provide coaching and support in the build-up to the event and will each manage a team on the day. In the lead up to the tournament, the clubs have also hosted their own special events and qualifiers at their facilities to help select the teams for the final event.
Freddie Hudson, Arsenal in the Community and Chair of London United:
“London football club’s Foundations have worked closely with NHS staff for many years through a range of community health initiatives and we have seen first-hand what an important and difficult job they do. The pandemic has placed enormous strain on these brilliant and dedicated people so London United would like to bring them together through football to say thank you and show our appreciation.”
Sir David Sloman, NHS Regional Director for London:
“I’m incredibly proud of our brilliant NHS workers for their hard work and unwavering commitment to patient care over what has been an extremely challenging year. They deserve to have some fun and what better way than by bringing together the capital’s two main loves – the NHS and football!
“Good luck to all those taking part – I look forward to seeing which teams emerge victorious!”
Joe Cole, 11 Foundation Co-Founder:
“The NHS is a beacon for our country, and Carly and I feel proud to help in any small way. The 11 Foundation and football clubs across London are united in wanting to recognise the sacrifices made by our NHS staff in the most challenging of circumstances.
We have been inspired by the bravery and spirit of NHS staff throughout the pandemic and this initiative is a brilliant way to use the power of the football to celebrate NHS staff and champion the vital role our hospitals play in every community across the capital.”