Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 658

6 27 JULY 2023 News&Views In focus The Lionesses are looking to roar as theWomen’sWorld Cup enters its second week. Tomorrow (28 July) the England teamwill run onto a perfect pitch at the Sydney Football Stadium to face Denmark to the cheers of thousands. This same weekend, 10 or so women will be at the AstroTurf at Goodwin Sports Centre, She eld, to play a Football For Foodbanks (FFF) fixture in the women and gender minorities division. They will each have paid £4 to play, a fee that includes a donation to charity. They’ll be wearing whatever clothes they’re comfortable in. The footballing skills might be sketchy, minor flouting of the rules will be overlooked. Someone will keep score. What’s at stake at this and every FFF fixture is not a gleaming trophy but the pursuit of friendly, inclusive football, and the support of local charities, especially food banks. So far, FFF has raised around £20,000, with every one of the 27 or so weekly fixtures – the number is steadily rising – addingmore to the pot. FFF, a community interest company started in 2021, grew out of a hopeful Reddit post in pre-pandemic 2020. Civil servant Matty Cassell wanted to find likeminded people in She eld for a friendly five-a-side kickabout. He wanted to play without the ‘blokey culture’ and ‘racism, homophobia, and transphobia’ that he says can blight such activities. He wasn’t alone, and people responded. “I booked a pitch. I used some of the subs to buy balls and goalkeeper gloves,” saysMatty. “We soon had everything we needed, so we started doing shops for food banks with the surplus money.” FFFwasn’t ever about making a profit, so as more people signed up, he bookedmore pitches, collectedmore £4 subs, and donated more to food banks. Women andmembers of the LGBTQIA+ community were attracted by FFF’s ‘safe space’ spirit, to the point that Alice Rhind-Tutt – an early responder to Matty’s post – started theWGMdivision. Like Alice, Rhiane Spurden has played since the early days and will be on the Goodwin pitch on Sunday. “It’s such a heartwarming thing to do. I enjoy the playing, and that we’re helping others at the same time,” she says. “And I cannot stress enough how casual it all is – it’s genuinely about having fun. I’mnot naturally sporty, I’d never really kicked a ball before, but it’s amazing to be part of it.” The impact of the pandemic was immense. “It sky-rocketed,”Matty says. “When we came back from lockdown, every game we HAVING A BALL (Clockwise from top) Winners of a WGM tournament; Matty Cassell; Alice RhindTutt; dropping o supplies at food banks; action from an event PITCHING IN TO TACKLE FOOD POVERTY It’s not all about winning when it comes to football – Tessa Allinghammeets a community group that offers an inclusive and charitable way to play ‘It’s about having fun. I’d never really kicked a ball before, but it’s amazing to be part of’