London football clubs pulling together to help communities in Race Europe challenge

Football club trusts across London are pulling together in a monumental effort to raise money for their communities in a ‘Race Europe’ challenge.

The challenge sees 23-member squads representing each football club accumulatively cover the 6,720.6 miles between each of the ten Euro 2020 stadiums, starting in Glasgow and ending in St Petersburg, Russia.

The distance covered is roughly 27% of the Earth’s circumference.

Almost any form of physical activity performed can contribute towards the goal, with participants running, cycling and swimming while representing 14 London clubs including Watford, Charlton Athletic, AFC Wimbledon and Brentford.

Leading the pack is one of four Wimbledon teams, who at the time of writing are approaching the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary.

The Dons’ success can be explained by a love of cycling and a will to be the best.

“We have a big cycling community,” Community Sports Coach & Lead Disability Officer Doruk Ahmet explained.

“A lot of coaches at the club love to cycle, our director loves to cycle, and they inspired everyone else to get onto their bikes.”

Community Development Manager Fiona Sutherland believes leading the pack is the best way of generating and building interest within the community.

“Our charity is very community-focused,” Sutherland explained.

“Living in those boroughs, it is good to do something that does good for our area.

“If we stay in first place, the club and the fans will see how well we’re doing and want to support the cause and the foundation.”

LET’S GET READY TO WOMBLE: the Dons Foundation has been leading the charge

The AFC Wimbledon Foundation hopes to use the money raised from Race Europe to help their community’s response to the pandemic.

Sutherland added: “The majority of that money is going into food provisions in the school holidays, and provisions for elderly and isolated people. We also have social clubs where we can play bingo, do quizzes, and have tea and coffee. We can then do some light chair exercise and movement.”

Meanwhile, the Brentford Community Sports Trust hopes to build on the £5,000 success of their “1889 challenge”, which last summer saw club representatives cycle 1889 miles in honour of their foundation year of 1889.

Marketing & Partnerships Manager Tomás Abreu explained the trust’s concern over getting people involved, which has been resolved by a great response from all participants.

“The response to the event has been really positive,” he said.

“We were quite worried to start with because we have run a lot of events quite recently and we thought it would be difficult to recruit people and get everyone to get behind us, but since people joined it has been really positive.

“We have a WhatsApp group which is quite lively as well, you get the cyclists who post pictures from their rides which then motivates the walkers.

Like the AFC Wimbledon Foundation, the Trust hopes to use the money raised to fund community projects.

Abreu said: “We’re looking to build a new cycling hub in Gunnersbury Park, where we have new football pitches, and events like this help us deliver these kinds of bespoke initiatives.

“We aim to regenerate an old hut to become our hub and deliver a ‘Companion Cycling’ programme that engages with elderly people and people with disabilities.”

You can donate to the AFC Wimbledon Foundation here and the Brentford Community Trust here, and track their progress on the Race Europe virtual roadmap.

Image Credits: AFC Wimbledon Foundation

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