Alumni come together to raise money through charity football games

A group shot of footballers on Holywell Astro.

During the Alumni Reunion Weekend in May, two groups of alumni came together to play football in the name of charity.

The first match of the weekend was led by Tim Crane in a memorial tournament that has been held annually since 2001. The tournament was initially established in honour of Eddie Gregg, a former University footballer and alumnus who sadly passed away from leukaemia.  

Since then, sadly others have passed away, Mike Hughes, Daniel Wilkinson, Tom Rankin, Matt Pinnock, and Paul Smith.  

This year marked the 25th iteration of the 5-a-side tournament and there were nine teams with both alumni and current students competing.  

Well known players such as Paul McGuiness (Manchester United), Rob Matthews (Notts County) and Lee Howarth (Peterborough) took part.  

The event raised money for Mind, Blood Cancer UK, The Willow Foundation, and The Daniel Wilkinson Foundation.

A group of women wearing blue football shirts in front of a goal at Hollywell Sports Complex, Loughborough University

Rows 40 for 40 football match also took place on campus at the Holywell Sports Complex. Eight teams participated, including alumni from Loughborough University, local team Loughborough Foxes, a student team, and a team made up of friends and family.  

The event was held in support of Row – an alumna who has been affected by severe M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), a condition that has significantly impacted her life. Row has turned 40 this year and her friends and family have come together to raise £40,000 in support and to raise awareness of M.E through taking part in different challenges including a 4-peak challenge, Amsterdam Marathon, and Santa Fun Run. 

Each match was 10 minutes long, with no halftime, creating an exciting and fast-paced atmosphere. The event struck a perfect balance of fun and competitiveness, with teams and supporters turning out in large numbers to show their support. Volunteers helped run a cake stand, adding to the community spirit of the day. 

A couple of attendees shared their thought on the day: 

This tournament was a real labour of love. Seeing everyone out there competing and enjoying themselves, all while raising money for such an important cause, was truly heartwarming. I'm proud to have been a part of it.

Another added: 

What a great day! Playing for Row made it even more special, and being back at Loughborough, where we all played together for years, was so nostalgic

The tournament culminated in two finals. In the Row's Plate Final, ‘Absolutely Fabregas’ emerged victorious. The Row's Champions Final saw the ‘Foxes Vixens’ narrowly defeat the tournament favourites, ‘Pillin 'Em Softly,’ in a penalty shootout. 

After the matches, everyone gathered at the Village Bar to enjoy food and drinks along with a raffle. There was also a heartfelt and informative speech delivered by an ME sufferer, which provided valuable insight into the cause the campaign is supporting.  

The tournament generated significant donations, maintaining momentum toward the 40 for 40 campaign goal, nearly halfway towards the total target.  

The event was a memorable day, with everyone playing to show their support for Row. The success of the tournament has led to discussions about it potentially becoming an annual fixture, further cementing the campaign’s aim in helping support Rows recovery journey, donate to research, and support other ME sufferers.  

It is great to see members of the Loughborough Family coming together to support both events. Thank you to event organisers Tim and Shauna for sharing their stories.