VITAL hospice care for children in the Highlands and beyond is set for a cash boost after plans for an all-night football festival fundraiser were announced
Footballers of all ages and abilities are expected to take part in the epic challenge early in the new year – and organisers have appealed for wannabe soccer stars to put their names forward.
The 14-hour marathon will take place at the Bught Park Leisure Centre in Inverness on January 13 and 14 and will feature five-a-side teams playing in relays.
The categories will include sportsmen (18-30 years), mature (30-55) and veteran (over 55) as well as women’s teams, disabled players and youth teams.
The High Fives for All Indoor Football Festival will raise money for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) as well as demonstrating the benefits of physical activity.
It is being organised by the Inverness Businesses Fives group which plays five-a-side football each Thursday evening at Millburn Academy.
This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the group’s first match.
Professional club, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, is an enthusiastic supporter of the festival and will oversee the opening youth session.
The club’s chief operating officer Danny MacDonald said: "As a club, it is important that we support and engage with passionate and caring people who have the desire to help others, in particular within our local and regional communities throughout Scotland.
"The Inverness Businesses Fives have highlighted a special organisation in CHAS that we are delighted to support.
"I am sure the January event will attract a high number of teams being represented by many diverse groups that will create an atmosphere of football fun, fitness and an opportunity to meet new friends but importantly with the main aim of collectively raising money that will make a positive difference to many youngsters and families associated with the charity."
Ron Cruickshank, of the Inverness Businesses Fives group, outlined the inspiration for the fundraising festival.
"Our group is made up of people who simply love playing football and have been fortunate enough to have been able to enjoy sport for such a long time," he said.
"To mark our anniversary, we wanted to do something to help those who have not been so fortunate but who could benefit from funds we can raise on the night.
"It’s important that we include as many people as possible of different gender, ages and abilities to demonstrate how sport can bring people together to help themselves and others," he added.
Stephen Hart, CHAS’s community fundraising manager for the north of Scotland, said the charity was delighted to be a partner in the festival.
"It is a brilliant idea to raise money which will benefit children across Scotland and raise awareness of the work of the charity," he said.
"CHAS does vital work for children and young people with life shortening conditions and their families but currently can reach only one in three of the families who need the service. With your support we can bridge that gap.
"CHAS is committed to making sure no matter how short a time a family may have together, it is a time filled with happiness and fun."
The festival will get underway at 6pm on Saturday, January 13 when the youth teams will get the ball rolling until 9pm.
The youngsters will then pass on the hour baton to other teams to play in relays throughout the night.
Players will also have the incentive to win prizes ranging from T-shirts to tee-off times at Castle Stuart Golf Links.
To register a team, or find out more about the event, contact Ron Cruickshank at Associated Legal & Financial, of Academy Street, Inverness, or email email@example.com.