THIS week, Chelsea Foundation invited key workers from three NHS trusts across northwest London to compete in a tournament at Stamford Bridge to thank them for all their amazing work during the COVID-19 pandemic and give them a well-earned fun off.
Staff from Chelsea and Westminster, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the Royal Marsden took to the pitch in the sunshine for the 6-a-side football men’s and women’s tournaments, coached by Chelsea Foundation football coaches. Former Chelsea Women’s star Claire Rafferty was also on hand to offer advice and cheer the teams on from the sidelines.
Imperial College came out victorious on the day, with both their men’s and women’s teams finishing top after winning their nail-biting penalty shootout showdowns. The pitch day was generously donated to the NHS by Chelsea’s official global tyre partner, Yokohama.
Chelsea Foundation’s tournament was the opening fixture and launch event for a London-wide NHS tournament organised by football charity London United, 14 iconic London clubs, and the 11 Foundation (set up by former professional footballer Joe Cole and his partner Carly). Each club will host a regional round supporting NHS trusts from their local area, with the men’s and women’s winners from each going on to compete in the grand finale event at Gunnersbury Park on 26 June.
Professor Julian Redhead, Medical Director at Imperial College Hospital and Chelsea’s Club Doctor, commented:
“I really want to say thanks so much to Chelsea and London United for organising this event with us. It’s meant so much to all our members of staff from all the three hospitals, not just Imperial – I’m not just saying that because we won!
“It’s been a really great way to say thank you for all the hard work they’ve put in. It allows them to socialise and relax and get back to some sort of normality, so a big thank you from us all.”
Dom Conlin, Hospital Director, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said:
“We have had the most amazing afternoon here at Chelsea, they’ve been wonderful hosts, and everyone on the pitch has had a fantastic time playing the beautiful game.
“As a hospital, we already have a great partnership with the club, so we are really pleased to be able to build on this and create new opportunities through this event. The idea behind the tournament was as a thank you to NHS staff for their amazing efforts during the pandemic. We’re extremely grateful to Chelsea and the other London clubs involved for running with the idea and turning it into an event where we can have some fun, be active, and socialise with our colleagues in a way that hasn’t been possible for a long, long time.”
Head of Region, South-East for Chelsea Foundation, Phil Hastings added:
“NHS staff up and down the country have given so much during the pandemic and have taken care of so many people. It was great to team up with Yokohama to offer our local NHS staff a short respite away from their daily duties, giving everyone at Chelsea FC an opportunity to say thank you and showcase our ongoing support for our key workers.
“We look forward to continuing to build strong relationships with the three NHS Trusts involved and supporting them at the final tournament in June.”
Chelsea Foundation has continued to support the community throughout the pandemic with a raft of initiatives, including offering NHS key workers free bed and breakfast at the Copthorne Hotel on the stadium site at the height of the pandemic. Food parcels were also provided for NHS staff and pensioner groups via the charities Refuge and NHS Charities Together. Pensioners were kept fit with free access to exercise equipment and virtual exercises set up for the Foundation, and a Team Talk support network was also formed to encourage groups to keep in touch to combat loneliness.
Children were also encouraged to ‘Check-in with Chelsea’, a programme reminding them to check in, stay focused and keep active with activity packs, workbooks and healthy lifestyle resources distributed.