July 26th 2021
Leisure Leagues Try It Out For Charity

We were delighted this past weekend to be involved in the first ever Sport Parkinson’s Try-Athlon.

The event, which was held at the fantastic Sixways Stadium, in Worcester, where we operate four leagues throughout the week, saw people with Parkinson’s disease come together from across the UK to celebrate what can be achieved through the power of sport.

There were taster sessions of sports such as cricket, hockey and netball, as well as arts and crafts in the so-called “Mindfulness Centre” and exercise classes to aid the physical and mental health of people with the disease.

The centrepiece of the event – which was attended by Rugby World Cup winner Mike Tindall and his family – was the football tournament, as eight teams from as far afield as London, Liverpool and Wales, fought it out to see who took the glory! Leisure Leagues supplied the equipment and referees for the event.

The pre-tournament favourites Cadwyr Cmryu and Parkysauraus were in separate groups, and both qualified for the semi-finals after some tight games. Particularly in group two, where it was so tight that the two top sides – Cwmryu and Northern Lights from Merseyside – had to shoot-out to decide the winners of the group (there would more to come with those two later!)

The other group saw and Parksaurus (who included Charlie Appleyard, who has played for the England Parkinson’s team in their ranks) and Shaketar Dontask progress – the latter on goal difference from Dopamine Deficient Dribblers.

The semi-finals were tight. Northern Lights scraping through by the only goal and Cmryu seeing off Dontask, to pit them together with Northern Lights for the title game. As expected it was a hard-fought affair between two well-matched teams, and when no goals were forthcoming in normal time, the game went into an extra period.

Lights – who had hit the bar towards the end – went close again in the extra-period, but the match ended goalless.

The penalties were sudden death, and after a good save from the Merseysider’s keeper on the sixth spot kick (pictured above, top right), the title was heading back up the M6.

Leisure Leagues’ Andy Thorley, who was at the event for the world’s largest provider of small sided football said the day had been an “incredible” experience, adding: “It might be a cliché, and although Northern Lights and their fans were so proud to come out on top, really everyone was a winner, and it was fantastic to see.”

Andy added that the sense of community really struck him: “What really hit home was just how much the players get from playing their sport. How much it gives them.

“I was particularly struck by the story of the goalkeeper for YOPD, who had been unable to leave his house through anxiety over his condition. He told me that the team has given him a purpose and a friendship – and that is what sport in general and our leagues in particular – give to people.”

Andy added that Leisure Leagues were looking into ways to support disability sport even more through their netball, hockey and football leagues but said: “That’s for the future, but we’d love to be involved again next year with the Try-Athlon, but until 2022 we just echo the very last words that the Sport Parkinson’s Director Garen Williams said on Saturday: stay healthy and strong until a cure comes along.

To find out more about Sport Parkinson’s work click here

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