NHS workers along with police, fire and prison officers will contest a new nationwide football competition in a bid to become the best emergency service team in the country.
Two detective constables from West Yorkshire Police, Andrew Smurthwaite and Peter Overton, are responsible for launching the sponsor funded ‘Champions League’.
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“We’ve got no doubt it will boost morale,” DC Overton told Sky Sports News.
“It will increase fitness and help with the wellbeing of the staff. Sport is a massive reducer of stress so teams will see a benefit to this.”
Emergency service workers have been revered by the public since the coronavirus pandemic intensified with many thankful for the selfless nature of their work on the front line.
“We have booked the final venue at a semi-professional ground and we are expecting the families or friends of those taking part to come and watch, but obviously if the support continues as it is it would great if more people did want to come,” DC Overton added.
“It’ll be a good standard of football and you’re more than welcome if you’d like to support your local hospital, ambulance, force or district.”
The competition will operate with flexible fixtures in eight regional groups of six teams. Each side will play each other once and from there it will be similar to a Champions League style format.
The top two qualify for the knockout last-16 stage and they are hoping to kick off in July, subject to the current social restrictions being lifted, with the final scheduled for next summer.
There are 40 teams from across the country currently registered and the ESFL duo are hoping they can get another eight to help with numbers.
“We’ve found it difficult [to play matches] due to changes in staffing or players being unavailable due to annual leave,” DC Overton said.
“We played the NHS and they told us they also struggle for friendlies so Andy came up with the idea of arranging a national competition.
“When we have played emergency services games in the past there is always an extra competitive edge, playing for pride really.
“You’ve got players who have played semi-professional or those who have played a good standard of grassroots game.”
Workers will play games during their own time and there is no doubt about the fixtures to watch out for.
DC Overton said: “The police and fire service have always had that rivalry! The London police are likely to be in the London fire brigade group and we’re being told already that might be a bit of a battle!
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