A group of young cancer patients have organised and are competing in a football tournament on Saturday, June 3, at the home of Sheffield United Community Foundation (SUCF), The SteelPhalt SUFC Academy, that aims to dispel the myths that enjoying life and playing sport has to stop due to a cancer diagnosis.
Teams in the six-a-side tournament, which starts at 10am at the SUFC Academy in Firshill Crescent, must pay a £20 entry fee per team and include at least one young player who has cancer. The teams can also include people who have survived cancer as a young person, people who are currently having cancer treatment, or be a close friends or relatives of a young person who has or has had cancer.
At 2pm there will be an 11-a-side match with the young patients and staff from Sheffield United Community (SUCF) playing against a team from Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and The Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.
The idea for the tournament came from young people who are being treated at The Royal Hallamshire Hospital who are supported by the UK’s leading cancer support charity for children and young people, CLIC Sargent and SUCF.
It is hoped that as well as showing what young people with cancer are capable of, that the event will also raise vital funds to help CLIC Sargent support others coping with the disease, and SUFC, with proceeds from the tournament entry fees and bucket collections planned.
CLIC Sargent’s Cancer Care Teams specialise in working with children and young people with cancer aged 0-25 and their families by offering emotional and practical support to help them minimise the devastating impact of cancer on their lives.
Last year CLIC Sargent supported 565 children and young people with cancer and their families in Yorkshire and the Humber, and awarded £99,806 to young people and families in need to help them meet the extra costs a cancer diagnosis brings, like travelling to hospital, and parking fees.
Fran Allen, Young Person’s Social Worker, CLIC Sargent, explains how the idea for the tournament came about:
“Some of the young people I’m working with at the moment are talented football players, who had trials for some of the national clubs and were playing at a high standard before they became ill. Football was a hugely important part of their life before diagnosis and they were determined that cancer should not change that.
Curt, Adam and Josh were joking during chemotherapy treatment on the ward about who was the best footballer, and that’s when the idea came about to organise a football tournament to decide once and for all, and that they and other young people with cancer could play in.”
Curt Allen, aged 17, from Rotherham is undergoing treatment for leukaemia and was one of the young people who came up with the idea for the tournament, alongside Adam Brogan and Josh Wainwright.
He comments: “I live and breathe football, I love it, and it is my passion in life.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer last August I went on intensive treatment, and I’ve had to take a year off college too, so I haven’t played in a match for 10-months.
“Now I’m through the worst bit of the treatment I’m looking forward to getting back on the pitch, and helping to organise the tournament with Adam, Josh and Fran has really taken my mind off things.
“I hope it sends a positive message to people out there who are newly diagnosed that cancer doesn’t have to take over your whole life. It is a massive deal, but there is life after cancer too!
“And hopefully we can have a look at future football projects together too, that help young people who have finished treatment get their fitness back.”
SUCF, funded by Wembley National Stadium Trust is currently delivering two different programmes to support people who have, or have had cancer. Using the power of the football club’s brand and using its iconic spaces, they are trying to reach out to as many people as they can. The ultimate aim of this work is to create a model of support for those affected by cancer that can be shared with football clubs up and down the country.
Keith Ward, Health, Well-being and Cohesion Manager, Sheffield United Community Foundation (SUCF), said: “Fran from CLIC Sargent contacted us at SUCF at the perfect time. We were already half way through another programme supporting adults with cancer and were in the early stages planning a programme for young people too.
“Following that call, we put plans in place for Fran and the group of young people to come to one of the executive boxes at Bramall Lane for a planning meeting. Since then we have met monthly and kept in touch over email to plan for the Kick Cancer Cup.
“As well as planning the event, there is a lot of work going into documenting the build up to the day. Another young man Fran supports, Josh Ward who is going through his own battle organised a day in the recording studio with us all and is putting a film about the project together.”
“The positive energy that these guys show every time we meet is amazing! They are an inspirational group of young people with a great, positive message for others in a similar position. However, their message is not only to patients! It is for the families and friends as well. It is a horrible disease and no one should have to suffer, so every positive message should be shared to provide that bit of hope when it is most needed.”
Please contact Regional Fundraising Manager Gemma.Cross@clicsargent.org.uk for further information about the event.