June 21, 2017
More Than A Game would like to thank all of you who donated money to last weekend's London Football Marathon. Dozens of friends donated to the lads and our team raised over 2100 pounds (2500 euro). Thank you so much for your kindness! Your donations will improve the lives of others in Africa and I am sure they will actually save lives!
We would also like to give a big thank you to our team mates, who endured 30 degree temperatures playing football from 8am to 8.30pm. We will forever share a special bond for what we endured and what we accomplished. Thank you Marty, Manu, Warren, Will, Tom, Andy, Martins and Justin!
What happened on Saturday? … We met at 7am, four of our team driving through the night from Portsmouth on less than two hours sleep to play. At 8am the tournament kicked off: 48 teams playing 6-a-side on quite large grass pitches. Each game lasted approximately 25 minutes, with no breaks or half-time. Each squad was made up of 8 players, with 2 rolling substitutions. After a game finished, we needed to walk to another of the 25 pitches and start playing our next match 5 minutes later.
The heat was brutal. By 10am, the temperature was already into the 20s. In the morning, we played 7 group games and won all 7 games, scoring 19 and conceding just 2 goals. We were the only team in the first round to win all 7 games and were therefore leading the tournament at noon. At that stage, we believed we could win the tournament.
After the first round of games, there was a brief rest period but unfortunately half of our team had to referee other games in the break. We also lost one of our key players: Andrew, who needed to take his son to a football trial. Andy had kindly stepped in to help the team the week before after one of our team was forced to drop out on doctor's orders.
So, just 7 games into the tournament we were forced to play with 7 players, while other teams had 8. As round 2 began, we drew 0-0 with one of the eventual finalists. In game 9, we stopped for an infringement in the game but the other side played on and scored. Instead of disallowing the goal, the referee allowed it to stand. Our collective heads dropped and for the first time, we lost a match.
Worse was to follow in the next match as Warren got injured and two of our players got bad cramp.
This meant that by game 10 we were suddenly playing with just 6 players instead of 8 and with two of us playing with cramp. Inevitably, this meant “the wheels came off” and any chance we had of making it to the finals was gone.
Sadly, we were forced to play around 10 matches with no substitutions. One of the lads on another team told me clocked up 42 kilometres during the day and that was in a team with 2 rolling subs. I suspect, therefore, that some of our players may have covered 47 kilometres or more as the temperature hit 30 degrees!
In all honesty, all of us wanted to quit. It was hideous out there with no substitutions. I can't explain how awfully tiring it was playing football continuously hour-after-hour on grass, with no shade, no subs, and with the thermometer hitting 30 degrees.
After one match, I crawled off the pitch and threw up. In another match someone managed to break my nose. Our lads played on with severe cramp and injuries. To say I am proud of my team mates is an absolute understatement. We all went through hell in the mid-afternoon and early evening.
At around 8.30pm we played our final match. In total, we played 20 x 25 minutes. That is the equivelent of playing 5 full 90-minute matches in African temperatures. Our playing record was: Played 20, Won 12, Drew 3, Lost 5. Extremely respectable I would say. I believe if we had played with 8 players instead of 6 for much of the tournament then we certainly would have finished in the top 4.
But, ultimately, of course, the day was about fundraising and completing an endurance event. And WE DID IT! I am so proud of all of us. And I am proud of all the people who supported us financially and with their words of support!
June 15, 2017
Unfortunately, we lost two of our players last week, one on doctor's advice.
Fortunately, Andrew Hutson has agreed to step in and help us...despite doing the London-Brighton bike marathon the following day!
Andrew played football with Justin at Bournemouth University, the two having met down on the South coast way back in 1989! Now in his mid-40s, Andy was a talented midfield player, who was on Northampton Town's radar in the 1980s.
More Than a Game FC is very grateful to Andy for stepping in and joining the squad!
June 5, 2017
We are still a man short with less than two weeks to go until the Tackle Africa London Marathon. It is going to be a hell of a struggle for us playing with one less player than the other teams. Several people have wanted to join but have ended up having to withdraw.
Hope we can still find the eighth man. Justin is in Cyprus at the CONIFA Euros and hopes to ask the Isle of Man team if they perhaps have anyone who can help out on June 17.
May 31, 2017
Justin has finished 28 days in Riga preparing for the London Football Marathon in support of Tackle Africa's work in Africa.
28 days later...
- pledges and donations from 35 friends from 14 different countries
- 165 pounds + 90 euro donated to our Just Giving page
- 502 euro pledged on sponsorship forms from friends living in Riga
- 290 kilometres walked and jogged around Riga
- 125 minutes played in football matches in Latvia
- 360 minutes football training
- 15 salads eaten
- a little bit too much beer consumed
- 3 kilos lost
If you would like to donate, you can do so here:
More Than A Game Just Giving Page
Many thanks to all the 35 people from England, France, USA, Latvia, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Morocco, Norway, Estonia, Cyprus, UAE and Spain, who have so far donated to Justin's More Than A Game efforts :
Wanted! A pro-footballer to join our charity football team for the upcoming London Football Marathon. Must be willing to play football matches for 12 hours non stop, raise lots of money for a good cause, and try to win the 47-team-tournament for our team!
Our charity football team More Than A Game FC is one player short for the upcoming Football Marathon on June 17.
We will play 6-a-side football for 12 hours in a 47-team-tournament. Each team is allowed a maximum squad size of 8 players. We currently have 7 players.
All proceeds go to Tackle Africa's work, using the power and popularity of football to deliver sexual health education to young people on football pitches across the African continent.
We want a professional or semi-pro player to not only help us raise lots of money but also to "carry" the team and lead us to competition glory.
If you are interested, please contact Justin before June 5, 2017:
May 27, 2017
It wasn't the ideal environment for getting fit for a football marathon, but More Than A Game FC picked up nearly 250 euro in sponsorship pledges for Tackle Africa from friends at the LatvianBeerFest on Friday evening in Riga. Beer makes people kind.
You can donate online at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/morethanagamefc
May 24, 2017
With 24 days to go until the London Football Marathon in support of Tackle Africa's HIV-education through football programme in Sub-Saharan Africa, Justin has already received a fantastic 360 euro from those connected to Riga United Football Club.
Already, a total of 19 players, coaches, board members, supporters and former players have pledged donations totalling 360 euro! And more is likely to come from members of the Latvian football club in the coming days.
In addition, our More Than A Game Just Giving page has so far received a total of 340 pounds.
Our 2100 euro target is still quite a long way off so we hope lots more people will support our charity efforts as we play football for 12 hours in London on June 17.
If you would like to donate, then please click on this link:
Please consider sponsoring me as I play football for 12 hours to raise money for HIV education in Africa
Please consider sponsoring me as I play football for 12 hours, running around 40 kilometres, to raise money to deliver HIV education to young people in sub-Saharan Africa.
Myself and half a dozen friends have created a football team called More Than a Game FC. On June 17, we will play for 12 hours in the Tackle Africa London Football Marathon.
How can you help? Please donate any amount you can spare to our Just Giving fundraising page. Literally, any donation will help us to reach our target of 1750 pounds/2100 euro.
You can donate by clicking on the link below:
As a volunteer coach what will I do with Tackle Africa when I coach in Africa?
TackleAfrica uses the power and popularity of football to deliver HIV education to young people on football pitches across the continent. Specifically, we train African coaches to use fun, interactive football drills with the young people in their clubs and communities. We do this because many young people in Africa love football, but their location and their age means they’re most at risk of contracting HIV.
Each drill contains a sexual health message about HIV that unfolds as they play. Drills are designed so that young people learn through play, in a way they enjoy, remember and understand. Through the messages in these drills, we educate and challenge young players to make safer decisions, limiting the impact of HIV in their families and communities.
We work closely with a range of local partners, from grassroots community based organisations to international NGOs and government ministries. These partners advise us on local HIV and sexual health priorities, and help us find and develop football coaches in their regions, and allow us to reach thousands of young Africans every year.
May 9, 2017
We have now got our Just Giving page up and running so people can begin sponsoring us for the upcoming London Football Marathon. We have had one or two small glitches with the page but hope to share the info with you all later this week.
We now have seven players. One more slot is open. Really hope we can find someone to join us in the next week or two. None of us fancy playing 12 hours of football with just one sub!
We will be sharing news about how all the members of our team are preparing for London very soon.
May 5, 2017
Justin has returned to Latvia for a few weeks, which is ideal for trying to get in shape for the football marathon, as he can train with Riga United a couple of times per week. The city is full of green spaces and is a good place to cycle and jog, which is as well as he needs to lose a lot of weight and get himself much fitter if he is to survive 12 hours of football on June 17th in London.
Our team now has six players confirmed with Latvian Mārtiņš Akmentiņš joining us. He is a really decent player so great to have him on the team. He scored a lot of goals in the Latvian league when he last lived in Latvia.
We still need two more players with American pro keeper Matt Perella unable to get over from the States to join us as he had wished, and two German friends - Niels and Julian - also unable to come now due to them having medical exams around the time of the fundraiser.
We hope to set up our fundraising page this weekend.