Chelsea FC Foundation recently hosted the second annual NHS staff tournament at Stamford Bridge in an opportunity for the club to showcase our gratitude to NHS staff locally for all their hard work during and in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Teams from neighbouring hospitals and NHS services represented Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

The event was a huge success with over 100 doctors, nurses, physios, admin and core staff leading their teams in a battle to become North-West London NHS Champions. Eight male and four female teams took to the Stamford Bridge turf and in a closely contested tournament, the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust ran out winners of the men’s competition, while Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Trust triumphed in the women’s event.

The tournament was the latest initiative the Foundation has held helping to boost morale since the pandemic started in March 2020 and aiming to strengthen the relationship with NHS Trusts locally, with a focus on improving population health and reducing health inequalities.

Ahead of the pitch day, staff from the Foundation’s Health and Wellbeing Team met with key staff from all three hospital trusts to discuss ongoing collaboration opportunities. An engagement event held at Stamford Bridge gave staff the chance to talk about future programme ideas, building on the success of the Strategic Partnership formed with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust as a result of stronger alliances during the pandemic and the ongoing collaboration with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust on their transformative new way of delivering mental health services for young people, 'Best for You'.

Dominic Conlin, Hospital Director at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘On behalf of all of us at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, thank you so much for organising the tournament.

‘The buzz among the teams was amazing and I know I speak for everyone about how much they enjoyed the chance to play at Stamford Bridge and how we appreciated the event and the organisation.

‘There were a lot of happy staff at the hospital the next day! The NHS Trust Look forward to co-operating on health improvement initiatives and on other staff health and wellbeing events in the future.’

Freddie Zavallo, Inpatient Access Administrator at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: ‘My legs were gone but my heart still pumps happiness because of the unique opportunity that I had to walk and play football on the very green grass of Stamford Bridge, the home of the club I support since I moved to England.

‘Once again, thank you very much for such an opportunity. I can confirm I have now ticked one of my wishes in my bucket list.’

Emma Hill, Population Health Project Manager for the strategic partnership between Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Chelsea Foundation, also added: ‘It was a great honour to be part of this amazing opportunity to provide NHS staff the chance to play at Stamford Bridge, for some a childhood dream come true.

‘Thank you to Chelsea Foundation for the amazing experience and the commitment to work with the NHS to help support the health and wellbeing of our patients, staff and communities moving forwards.’

Anne-Marie Smith, who organised the event for Chelsea FC Foundation, added: ‘It was a real privilege to host our key NHS workers on the pitch for some well-deserved staff wellbeing after all of their hard work throughout the pandemic. We are very proud of the partnership and growing work alongside our local NHS trusts to help benefit our community. Thank you to all three trusts for joining us for this special occasion.’

It is hoped that this six-a-side tournament and initial pilot schemes will be the first of many collaborations between the Foundation and the NHS, with the joint ambition of promoting physical activity, a healthy lifestyle and creating positive social change for the future.

For more information on the Foundation’s work with the NHS, please contact [email protected] or [email protected]