The Big Match

Children in Care take on Medway Council in Charity Football Match at Priestfield Stadium

A crowd of over 200 supporters came together on Friday 3 May for the annual MCYPC football match. This year we had more young people than ever partaking in the match, with over 60 children in care taking on the Medway Council team!

We were incredibly delighted to be offered the chance to play at a full size stadium – Gillingham Football Club’s home ground, Priestfield. A very exciting privilege for our young people, generously donated by Paul Scally and Gillingham Football Club.

The roaring crowd was made up of foster carers, family, friends and Medway Council reps, including the newly elected Councillors on their first public duty following the local elections. This year it was a real privilege to be joined by YLF’s ambassadors, Harry Reid (Actor), James Hall (Olympic Medalist), David Jenkin (Young Ambassador) whilst also introducing the crowd to our newest member, Lenny the Lion – our new Charity Mascot!

The evening consisted of three football matches so that the 60 strong team of young people, aged between 6 and 21, all had a chance to play. There was such a great atmosphere in the stadium, the crowd was cheering and the young people were in high spirits throughout, despite a little rain in the air.

It was a victorious win for the young people who won by a mighty 9 goals to 7 against the Council professionals, leaving them with the Winners title but given the success of the event, everyone was a winner! Back in the Players Lounge at the Stadium after the games had ended, the crowd enjoyed refreshments and a presentation of trophies – with the young people lifting the cup in glory!

The highlight of the evening end was an unexpected charity donation of £1,000 from Andrew Mackness, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Medway Council who said,Its been a fantastic event tonight well done to everyone involved.  I’ve spent 4 years as the Lead Member for Children’s Services and it’s been a privilege and an honour and something I will always now be involved in. The work YLF do for Medway’s children is out of this world so I’m making a donation of £1,000 to help them continue this”.

Andrew Willetts, Head of Early Help and Targeted Services, Medway Council, commented, “Thank you, it’s been a privilege to be involved in these football matches since their birth 5 years ago.”

Some feedback from the young people and their carers included:

“So good to be involved and play at The Gills, something I will remember forever! I can’t believe we won!” Dan, Young Person

“Thank you so much for organising this event. The girls had an amazing time and we have some lovely photos for their memory boxes. They have treasured their trophies and they are sitting proudly on the bedside cabinet.” Wendy, Foster Carer

The event was a great success and we are overwhelmed with the support received. This event couldn’t have been delivered without the help of our remarkable YLF team and volunteers, our partners and supporters including, Gillingham Football Club, Medway Council, Brett’s Trophy Centre, Impress Promotions, our YLF ambassadors, and Matthew Scott (Kent Police Crime Commissioner) for providing the kit.

There was a great community feel to the day. A huge thank you goes out to one-and-all – the proceeds from the day will allow us to continue the vital work it carries out for some of the most disadvantaged children across Kent.

Stephen Gray, CEO of YLF, commented, “The night exceeded all expectations. I know many of the children who took part were delighted just to be in the stadium. The game was played in a spirit of inclusion and fun which is exactly what we were hoping for. One young girl approached me at the end of the night and thanked us because it was the first time she had ever received a trophy and was overwhelmed to have been included.”

Huge congratulations to the winners – the young people whom YLF is proud to support!