First Transplort Sport UK footballers train at United’s ground

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The first Transplant Sport UK football team have been preparing for The Match for Life in Leighton Buzzard.

The final training session and selection took place at Leighton United FC, a Charter Standard Community Club affiliated to Bedfordshire FA and

support the organ donation promotion event through the use of their grounds and facilities.

Matt Collins, coach at United, has the honour of leading the sessions and stepping out with the team to face a celebrity side managed by the current Newport County coach Mike Flynn.

The Match for Life will be played at Newport County FC in South Wales on Saturday, April 30, with kick-off at 5.30pm

Matt said: “As a dad of a sport mad transplanted youngster, thank you to all the staff and volunteers at Bedfordshire FA, Transplant Sport UK and Leighton United that enable Robert and so many others to live full and active lives. It is inspirational and a privilege to coach this side.”

The Transplant Sport UK team will consist of organ transplant recipients including heart, liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants whilst featuring one of the world’s longest surviving heart transplant recipients, Simon Keith.

Thirty years ago, a 17-year-old from Newport became a heart donor after suffering a brain haemorrhage playing football.

Ultimately the loss of life enabled Simon to continuing living his whilst becoming the first donor to play professional football.

With support of local grassroots football volunteers in Bedfordshire, James Petty, National Game Strategy Manager at Bedfordshire FA commented “This is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of organ donation and the positive impact it has on so many people. We are delighted to be able to support our local club and coach Matt Collins.

“Transplant Sport UK and the event itself to celebrate the importance of organ donation. We are hoping that such exposure will enable the first ever Transplant Sport UK football team to establish itself to play fixtures against the likes of Australia and Germany in the future.

“Locally it further highlights the inclusivity of our local grassroots football volunteers and clubs as well as providing numerous exit routes into our football initiatives. These range from joining local grassroots clubs (male & female) at numerous ages and levels, recreational turn up and play sessions, walking football, disability football, veterans (35+ year olds) and flexi league. We wish both teams the best of luck, however one thing that is guaranteed is that regardless of the result everybody will come away as a winner celebrating the gift of life that organ donation can bring.”