Wigan footy team's Denmark challenge to raise money for Parkinson’s Trust

The team bound for Copenhagen
The team bound for Copenhagen

A seven-a-side football team from Wigan will travel to Copenhagen at the end of the week to participate in the Ray Kennedy charity Cup.

John Hurley, who has had young-onset Parkinson’s Disease for the last five-and-a-half years, has formed a team to enter the Ray Kennedy Cup in Denmark on Saturday August 31.

Through setting up his side, Hurley is aiming to help raise awareness of his condition and other forms of Parkinson’s Disease.

He also wishes to raise funds for the Parkinson’s Trust charity who have the sole aim of finding a cure for the illness or repurpose drugs that are already being used for other conditions.

Hurley has been well-supported in his European football adventure, with many praising the good intentions behind his team and the tournament’s formation.

In the build-up to their trip to Denmark, Hurley and his troops spent a day training at Morecambe FC last week which was captured by the Sky Sports cameras.

Hurley simply couldn’t hide his excitement to take part in the Ray Kennedy Cup later this month, and emphasised the importance of raising awareness for all types of Parkinson’s Disease.

“We’re all very excited. We’re not meant to get a chance to represent the United Kingdom at football- especially at our ages,” he said.

“The experience will no doubt be good and positive for all of us who’s going to the tournament. It also gives us a chance to meet other people from other countries who have Parkinson’s.

“It’s very important for us to raise awareness of the disease.

“It’s not just a disease that the elderly get, young people get the disease who have got babies, have a job, and got a mortgage to pay for so you know we’re just trying to put it out there.

“We’re trying to promote a healthy lifestyle to keep training and eating good and obviously we are doing this for the Parkinson’s trust whose main aim is to slow the disease down and find a cure by repurposing drugs or with new drugs.”

The tournament is the brainchild of physiotherapist Finn Egeberg Nielsen, who realised his work with Parkinson’s patients that the movements required in football are very similar to the ones that he asked his patients to perform.

The tournament is named after former England and Liverpool footballer Ray Kennedy who was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s at the end of his playing career in 1984. It is widely acknowledged that keeping active is extremely helpful in combining the progression of Parkinson’s.

The organisers believe the Ray Kennedy cup has benefits beyond this by creating a social, fun environment for people with Parkinson’s to interact with one another.