SATURDAY was pure Bliss for the organiser of a charity football tournament at Woking Leisure Centre.
Matt Hudson, who was inspired to raise as much cash as possible for Bliss – a group who support babies born too soon, too small or too sick, and their families – certainly hit the back of the net over the weekend.
“I have supported Bliss Baby Charity for a number of years now, through monthly donations, smaller bake evens and competing in the 2013 Great South Run for them,” said Matt.
“Sadly, in 2009, my then partner suffered a miscarriage and we lost our baby boy, and obviously the feeling for a long time after was sheer sadness, sense of loss and a lack of comprehension of the situation.”
The idea for the tournament came to Matt in June, when he decided to run the 2015 London Marathon and was given a fundraising target of £2,500.
He added: “At first, I was slightly concerned as to how I would do this, but the idea of running events seemed the best and most fun way.
“Being a keen football fan, I knew a five-a-side tournament would attract plenty of interest and be a great way to begin my fundraising mission.”
Originally scheduled to be a 16-team event, eventually it became a 14-team event with two groups of seven teams playing 12-minute matches.
The top four from each group qualified for the quarter finals, and from then on the semi-finals and eventually the final.
Matt said: “The interest from teams was fantastic, with friends, family, and work colleagues current and past all entering teams into the tournament, and really getting into the fun, competitive spirit of the event. One player came over from Dublin (Adam Brown), and one from Devon (Matt Tresidder).
“The goalkeeper for Royal Admiral, Mark Winteridge, who I hadn’t seen for 11 years, positively jumped at the chance, while James Catchpole and Rob Schofield, volunteering to referee the event, did a great job and received some refereeing banter.”
Unfortunately, Matt’s own team – Old’n Unathletic (Matt and Dave Hudson, Vince Kear, Steve Lig, Warren Kear, Ryan Kear and Pete Turner) – bowed out at the group stage on goal difference.
Worcester Park Snakes (captained by Liam Naldrett) won the tournament, defeating Royal Admiral (captained by Mark Winteridge) 3-1 in a competitive, tense final. An auction featuring football memorabilia helped top up the day’s collection, which stood at £1,820 at the final whistle.