As our football marathon season draws to a close, we reflect on another record-breaking year of fundraising and fun (and more than a few blisters). We hear from Jane Carter, our Head of Partnerships, and her thoughts on quite a special team from this year’s Lancaster Football Marathon. Joe 88 United are a team made up of Lancastrians and refugees from East Africa and the Middle East, with a wonderful backstory. As Jane explains,
“There were many memorable things about the 2017 Lancaster Football Marathon; the goalie for FC Britannia playing a blinder despite looking like the guy from Bad Manners, the way that Brian Munich were pipped at the post as top fundraisers at the eleventh hour by the Double Slit Experiment (it’s a physics thing…..), the offer from the landlord of the Golden Lion (Jon, aka Lord Tighta**!) to give a free pint to every player with a wristband, and the sorry sight of Dom’s lovely new camper van stuck in the quagmire like mud at the very end of the day.
All those things made this marathon hard to forget but the thing that stuck with me was meeting Joe 88 United and their wonderful coach, Andy. Joe 88 United are a team who train every Wednesday and they are made up of a group of down to earth Lancastrians and another group of refugees and asylum seekers. I spoke to Andy’s son who told me that the team were named after his Grandfather who would have been 88 this year and who made a point of taking refugees into his home and making them welcome. Andy had suffered a cancer scare and on getting the all clear decided to throw himself into building this team. His passion for his team was clear to see as he gave them all encouragement and support throughout the day. The team included refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Kuwait and Eritrea and they were a talented bunch finishing fourth overall and scoring some audacious goals.
It seemed fitting in a way that African refugees were at our event showing what football means to them as they try and make a life for themselves in a strange country. They didn’t have the networks to raise the biggest total; in fact their British teammates did all the fundraising, but that didn’t really matter. They were there sharing the spirit of football and showing us all what a wonderful tool for change it really is!
Even if you didn’t play in a marathon this year, it’s never too late to donate to our fundraisers, and support our work in the fight against HIV in Africa. Visit here to make a donation: https://tackleafrica.org/get-involved/donate/