Captained by The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT) supporter Charlie Appleyard (pictured above, centre back) a group of men from across the UK have come together to form the 'UK YOPD' football team who at the end of August will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark to compete in the Ray Kennedy Cup to raise awareness and funds for CPT. All members of the team have one thing in common; they have been diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s.

What started out as an idea between Charlie and fellow team member Sam Turner, has now grown into a fantastic group of players, all dedicated to training and competing in the renowned, international tournament for people with Parkinson’s. The team connected on Twitter three months ago, and met for their first training session in Leicester in May where they performed well against a Leicester side. Charlie said:

“We have really bonded as a group and we communicate daily. We have come together from all over the UK to try and win the European championship!”

On Friday 26th July, the team had the opportunity to train with Morecambe FC at their home ground in Lancashire where they were also filmed by Sky Sports and recorded by Radio 5Live. As a supporter of Morecambe FC, this was an incredible experience for Charlie.

“It was an out of body experience to train with the club I have supported all my life. Morecambe were unbelievably helpful and welcoming, and to be filmed by Sky Sports and 5live was an amazing experience for everyone. Morecambe have been so supportive and the social media response has been fantastic.”

In addition to training hard and representing the UK in the Ray Kennedy Cup, the team are determined to use this opportunity to raise both funds and awareness for CPT’s pioneering research into a cure for Parkinson’s. They also aim to raise awareness of the condition, and of the benefits of exercise for those who have been diagnosed. Charlie who was diagnosed in 2016 said:

“It was a big revelation when we first met up that we all had a 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, dyskinesia, 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.”

The Ray Kennedy Cup is an international tournament named after the English footballer who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s aged 33. Teams of people with Parkinson’s from across Europe are invited to compete for the Cup, held this year on 31st August, and each team will play up to seven 12 minute games.

CPT would like to say a huge thank you to Charlie and the team for their inspiring fundraising efforts and support, we wish them the best of luck in the tournament! If you’d like to read more of the team's story please visit their fundraising page. You can also follow the team's progress on their Twitter page.  

If you would like to support the team's fundraising you can text GOAL to 70450 to donate £5 (T&C’s apply).