Chelsea Foundation recently joined London football clubs and Premier League legends at a six-a-side football tournament as part of our ongoing support for the NHS.
Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole and his 11 Foundation had a lead role in proceedings alongside London United, which consisted of the Chelsea Foundation and 13 other football clubs.
Cole was on hand to present the winners’ medals and trophies and speaking at the event, the former Blues player said: ‘It was an honour and privilege for me and the 11 Foundation to be part of the United for NHS in London event.
‘It was a great gesture from the London professional football clubs to show a collective appreciation to NHS staff from across the capital.
‘Football is brilliant in bringing people together and it was a good reminder that team sports and football can play a pivotal role in boosting mental health and well-being. This is so incredibly important for our NHS staff who have all endured an enormous strain throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘It was great to see smiles on the faces of staff from various hospital departments and be part of them having some much-needed fun as they battled it out for the United for NHS in London Trophy.’
Following local tournaments held by each football club, 19 teams made it to the finals of the men’s and women’s competitions, with NHS staff from over 20 London’s hospitals and trusts competing on the day.
Our very own regional tournament was held earlier this summer at Stamford Bridge, and once again, Chelsea Foundation coaches supported our local NHS Trusts teams from Chelsea and Westminster, The Royal Marsden and Imperial College helping to hand pick players and coach them on the day in collaboration with the 11 Foundation.
A big congratulations to the 11 Foundation’s women’s team who had a superb run, making it all the way to the final where they just missed out on the top spot with the men’s team making it to the semi-final.
Suzanne Marsello, chief strategy officer at St George’s Hospital, and Dominic Conlin, hospital director at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, who helped to organise the tournament for the NHS added: ‘The United for NHS in London tournament was a great success, and we were delighted to see so many NHS colleagues from across the capital taking part in some friendly, but fiercely contested games of football.
‘NHS staff have worked incredibly hard over the past 18 months, putting patients and colleagues first as they deal with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the support of communities and organisations across London has been wonderful. We are so grateful to the 14 football clubs that make up London United, Joe Cole and the 11 Foundation who came together to organise this unique thank you event.’
Phil Hastings, head of community programmes at Chelsea Foundation also commented: ‘It is fantastic to work closely with all of the London football club foundations to support our local NHS staff. Throughout the pandemic all NHS staff and front-line workers have put themselves at risk to support so many people and their families.
‘To be able to offer NHS staff an opportunity to celebrate their hard work and give them a day of fun, competitive football was a great privilege. We hope to work closely with our local NHS Trusts on future programmes to support their staff and local communities.'
Hospital staff had been training with the capital’s football clubs in the build-up to the finals in preparation for the tournament and it was the latest of many ways London’s footballing community has helped to boost morale during the pandemic.
Over the past 18 months, clubs have reached out to their local NHS hospitals; offering match tickets to staff, providing guest speakers for workshops, delivering activities for staff, sent donations and personalised player and legend video messages to staff and patients, and more.
It’s hoped that this six-a-side tournament will be the first of many collaborations between London’s football clubs and the National Health Service, with the joint ambition of promoting physical activity, a healthy lifestyle and creating positive social change for the future.