More than 600 people all played their part in a 24-hour football marathon run by Watford Football Club Community Sports & Education Trust.
Local youngsters, grassroots football team players, adults and members from Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) UK were all involved in the charity event, which took place over the weekend of May 20-21 to raise money for the trust and fellow charity Humanity First.
The round-the-clock challenge started at 9.45am on the Saturday as children between the ages of six and 11 kicked off the event. They took to the Vicarage Road pitch with their families watching from the Sir Elton John Stand. There were two sessions that ran until 1pm in an activity referred to as Play Like A Pro, which included a home changing room tour.
A tournament was next on the schedule, with mixed teams from across the Under 11 and Under 12 age groups competing on the pitch.
With the focus being on younger footballers during the morning and early afternoon, it was then the turn of players aged 16 to 18. The pitch markings changed to an 11-a-side match as players from two of the trust’s football and education programmes then took to the field, Westfield Football Academy versus Whitmore High School Football and Education Scheme.
With eight hours on the event clock, the players increased in age once again, with an adult tournament taking over for the final slot at Vicarage Road. The football was played in good spirits with 10 teams involved, including The WTW Warriors representing event sponsors WTW. Also involved were teams representing two further trust programmes from their health and wellbeing department – Shape Up and Man On.
As the sun set on Vicarage Road, the metaphorical half-time whistle was blown, and the event made a transfer to Watford Football Club’s training ground for their second half.
Football continued throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning. Event partner AMYA UK took over, taking on the biggest slot of the night with a range of players from across their association’s network.
Into the final stages of this challenging feast of football, Croxley Green Under 7s and Universal Elite Football Academy Under 8s were up to the task, with sessions in the Dome the penultimate action to take place.
To bring the event to a close in a session full of bright Watford FC yellow were the players from the trust’s Player Development Centres. As the games came to an end and the clock struck noon, the players gave a big cheer and the 24-hour football marathon was complete.
Leah Crocket, the trust’s events & marketing officer, said of the event: “Congratulations and thank you to all the players, team managers and spectators for playing their part in a wonderful two days of football and raising vital funds for two extremely good causes. Thank you must also go to our event sponsors WTW, our friends at AMYA UK, and of course, the many staff and volunteers who helped before and during the marathon, this would not have been possible without their support.”