NHS hospitals from across London were invited to Gunnersbury Park Sports Hub to take part in a six-a-side football tournament. The event was held as a thank you for the amazing work done by NHS and hospital staff throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The sun shone down on all participants on Sunday 5 September.

The tournament was hosted by football charity London United, the 14 football club community organisations from London, as well as the 11 Foundation which was set up by former professional footballer Joe Cole. The tournament acted as a thank you to NHS staff for their tremendous work throughout the pandemic and the strain that this put their organisation under. Brentford FC Community Sports Trust were able to host both a men’s and women’s competition at our home at Gunnersbury Park Sports Hub. Promoting the value of healthy active lifestyles is important to the work that both the NHS and football club community organisations do and this was another way of highlighting this and strengthening the relationships with local hospitals.

Lee Doyle, CEO at Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, said: “First of all this is crucially to say a massive thank you to the work that NHS staff do within this country. However, it is also great to see so many people here connecting with various strategic partners and directors from different areas promoting future collaborations.

"For us going into schools and even working with adults it’s important to see people enjoying what their doing and at the same time in some cases not even realising the potential health benefits and this is so important as we as an organisation look at not only promoting healthy bodies but also healthy minds. Mental health is a huge factor in ensuring that an individual is healthy as we now want to ensure healthy minds too.”

The Brentford team was made up of staff from West Middlesex Hospital and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. It was led by former player and club ambassador Marcus Gayle. After storming to the top of the table with three wins in a row, one coming against Queens Park Rangers, our NHS team went on to win the tournament lifting the trophy come to the end of the day.

Max Warren, one of our NHS staff players, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to represent Brentford FC in the NHS London football tournament. It was exactly what was needed after the past 18 months and it was brilliant to see so many NHS workers with smiles on their faces playing the game we love. Being led by the legend that is Marcus Gayle was amazing and then to go on and win the whole tournament even better!

"Events like this bring us together as a Brentford footballing family as well as a wider NHS community and it’s something we’d love to do again. We’re all looking forward to hopefully competing again and retaining our title as champions of NHS London. Come on you Bees!”

Marcus Gayle added: “I’ve been very impressed by my team as we’ve started off the tournament with three wins and three clean sheets and at the end of the day I was really proud to see my team lifting the trophy. After the year we’ve had it’s great to see people socialising and connecting in a competitive and friendly spirit and for the NHS workers, I can’t imagine the stress and strain they must have been dealing with so this is an opportunity for the community to give back and allow the workers to relax and let go of some of that pressure.”