On Saturday 31st August, a team of footballers who have each been diagnosed with Parkinson’s travelled to Copenhagen to represent the UK in the international Ray Kennedy Cup. UK YOPDFC (UK Young Onset Parkinson’s Football Club) sailed through to the semi-finals, but very narrowly missed their spot in the final to an experienced Danish side. The team have also done an incredible job of raising funds and awareness for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

What started out as an idea between team captain Charlie Appleyard and fellow team member Sam Turner soon grew into an inspirational group of 11 players who have spent months preparing to compete in this international tournament for people with Parkinson’s, all the while fundraising and raising awareness of the condition alongside. Team UK YOPDFC connected on Twitter, and during the lead up to the tournament were able to train with a Leicester team, and Morecambe FC, the club Charlie has supported since childhood.

Months of preparation led to one big day in Copenhagen, and its arrival brought with it excitement, nerves and motivation. UK YOPDFC sailed through the first round, coming top of their group with no goals conceded and five goals scored. However, as the competition fiercened and the team headed for the semi-final, three players were forced to withdraw due to injury, leaving just eight men to battle it out against a seasoned Danish side. Denmark edged ahead with a second goal, and in spite of a stellar performance from the UK the full-time scoreboard read 2-1. UK YOPDFC missed out on the final this time, but brought home a well-deserved bronze trophy from the tournament.

Throughout their journey the team have been determined to use this opportunity to raise both funds and awareness for Parkinson’s. They have already raised over £40,000, an amazing amount! The team have also aimed to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise for those who have been diagnosed. Team captain Charlie, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2016 aged 39 said:

 “It was a big revelation when we first met up that we all had similar story, we all had young onset Parkinson’s, but symptoms varied amongst us. I have trouble with balance and slowness of movement, others have a tremor, involuntary movements, cognitive issues and many more. By raising awareness we hope to make sure people get diagnosed quicker, and get people active and fighting this disease together.”

CPT’s CEO, Will Cook, said:

“Congratulations to Charlie and the full UK YOPDFC Squad. They did themselves, CPT and the whole country proud, and have been fantastic ambassadors for the positivity of the YOPD and wider PD community, and especially CPT’s work to find a cure for Parkinson’s. CPT welcomes our association with UK YOPDFC, since the squad’s very inception this year, and look forward to continuing success in the coming years!”

The team’s fundraising page can be found here 

Supporters can also text GOAL to 70450 to donate £5 to The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (T’s & C’s apply)