FOOTBALL is a platform used by many to help others.

Professional players utilise their profile to raise awareness for different causes and popularise charities based on their support. But it’s not very often that amateur footballers get a chance to use their love of the game to make an impact on the causes close to them. However, that is what is happening in Atherton.

Chris Colgan, a University of Bolton Sports Development and Coaching Student from Atherton, has lived in a community with a large number of underprivileged and deprived families, for most of his life.

He sees children on a daily basis that lack the basic essentials in provisions to succeed and decided to use his love of football, to try and tackle this issue.

Taking inspiration from Marcus Rashford’s amazing campaign and success in gaining free school meals for children across the country, Chris approached FareShare Greater Manchester to see if he could help raise the profile and fundraise for the charity.

Chris began to canvas support for his proposed event, and met Atherton Charity Shield Co-Creator, and Manchester Creative Collective Marketing (MCCM) owner, Richard Renda. Rich and Chris hit it off and the idea began to develop into something much more than just a football match.

Plans were put in place to host a three day, football, entertainment and family weekend to raise as much awareness and support as possible. With Colgan and Renda now focused on making this event bigger, the media and other interested parties started to show real interest. Before they knew it they had the support of Tesco, Sky Sports News, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, Mitre Sports, SikSilk Clothing and a number of successful national businesses such as the main sponsor Tubs N Taps Ltd. The lads knew things were hitting the right audience when the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and DNMay Sports Management offered their support.

Things were starting to snowball and the event had teams from across the UK applying to enter into the now 16 place Tournament. Clubs from Scotland, London, even an enquiry from Spain were proving that the concept was a winner. Similarly to the team enquiries, entertainment acts from across the region started to hear about the event. The boys soon started booking acts such as Amber Sax, former Venus DJ Adam Guy, DJ and Producer Fash, Tony as Robbie and a number of amazing bands, solo artists and entertainers covering all genres for proves to be an amazing few nights of music after the final whistle has blown on the football.

As well as raising awareness and funds for FareShare Greater Manchester, the opportunity arose to support someone closer to the pair. Chris and Rich have a mutual friend through football in Mark Prince. The fact they knew him through the game seemed a no brainer that they would want to work with him in supporting his cause, Holly’s Blooms Journey.

Mark’s daughter Holly was diagnosed with a very rare genetic condition Bloom Syndrome last year.

The condition causes immune deficiency, with increased susceptibility and risk of all cancers at an early age, as well as other effects such as growth impairment and sensitivity to sunlight. Not long after Holly’s diagnosis, she was sadly diagnosed with a Wilm’s Tumour (kidney cancer). The family were understandably devastated and Mark and his wife Jenny, began to research and campaign to find information on how they could cope with the cancer coupled with the effects that Bloom Syndrome would have on Holly throughout her life. Chris found out about Mark’s efforts and immediately offered the support of the event to help raise funds to get Holly and the family to Chicago to attend the Bloom Syndrome conference to give Holly the chance to meet other people with Bloom Syndrome as well as guidance in dealing with her illness.

Chris Colgan, said: “It’s been crazy the amount of kind comments and support we’ve been shown by everyone. We still have more really exciting news to announce and some great guests for the event. We are pushing out information daily via Facebook, Insta and Twitter so that’s where people can find out more.”

Miranda Kaunang, head of development at FareShare Greater Manchester, added: “It is really humbling to see the wave of action and support Marcus Rashford’s incredible campaigning has inspired across the country, and here in Greater Manchester we couldn’t be more proud to be involved with the Atherton Charity Shield tournament.”

“The impact of Covid has meant that the need for our service has never been higher, and we’ve doubled the amount of food we distribute in response to the crisis. Unfortunately, the reality is the hard work is far from over with demand unlikely to relent within the coming months. That’s why it’s more important than ever that charities and communities work together to support the most vulnerable. Chris’ efforts are a shining example of what can be achieved when we come together with a common aim.

The event will be held Friday, June 25 to Sunday 27 at Atherton LR’s Crilly Park and tickets go on sale soon. People can follow the Atherton Charity Shield via their social channels :

Facebook: @AthertonCharityShield

Instagram: @athertonshield

Twitter: @AthertonShield