British Heart Foundation
It’s fair to say I don’t really know how to start things like this, so I’ll open with a generic Hello, and I hope this finds you all well, and looking towards next summer, for the 8th edition of the UK Forum Allstars.
For those I haven’t met yet, I’m Aaron, I’m 24 and three quarters, and from a foreign land, more commonly known as Bangor, Northern Ireland. 2015 will be my third UK Fallstars tournament, and this season I’m honoured to have been asked to captain Team British Heart Foundation, or Team Kenneth, as is they are more commonly known during the weekend.
Being asked to be a captain in any team, in any sport, is an honour. It’s something most people aspire to, and when it happens, it’s a shock. David Grant called me a few weeks ago, I was fully expecting a few potato jokes, a quick chat about hockey, but I wasn’t fully prepared to be asked to captain a team. So firstly I would like to say thanks to the organisers for considering me, and secondly, I fully intend to lead Team BHF...straight to the bar once the hockey is over for the day...and possibly to the condiment table, although I’m sure Kes won’t need any help with that.
My road to the Fallstars started about 6 seasons ago, when I first heard about the tournament through Andrew Turnball. I thought it was an awesome idea. I think it’s best been described as a ‘second playoff finals weekend, without the emotional rollercoaster that goes with watching your team win or lose’.
I began playing hockey in the tail end of 2010, and first applied for the UK Fallstars in 2011, sadly, I didn’t make the roster, only the reserve list. The same happened in 2012 and 2013, until I got an email from David in April 2013 saying there had been a few people drop out and roster spots had opened up for Team Breast Cancer Care, amazingly, the team I wanted to represent. So that’s where it all started really, I made my justgiving page and spammed twitter for a solid 4 months. Team Boobs went on to win the tournament that year, which felt almost as good as hearing that the entire weekend had raised over £30,000.
In 2014 I represented Team Autism Plus, a locally based charity in the Yorkshire area. Initially I worried I wouldn’t be able to drum up as much sponsorship as the previous season. This wasn’t the case. As I’ve said before, the amount of donations and kindness and promotion you see for this event and the people taking part, is enough to restore your faith in humanity at times, and I’m sure I speak for all the players that take part, that we can’t thank everyone who donates enough for their donations and constant promotion for this event.
Hockey isn’t the biggest sport in the UK, but it has this aura around it that intrigues people, whether it be the scoring or the fights….well maybe mainly the fights, but it draws people to it. This weekend, to me, is all about the charities and meeting new people. The actual hockey plays second string to that. Whether you can or can’t skate, whether you can shoot or not, or whether you can stop or have to crash into the boards. It’s really not that important. The fact you’ve raised money for 6+ great charities and being able to do so by playing and watching a sport you love, having a few fun nights out in the local area, and all while raising ridiculous amounts of money for 6+ charities in the process. That’s a pretty sweet gig if you ask me.
To date, the UK Forum Allstars has raised just under £120,000, with nearly £80,000 being raised in 2013 (£30,550) and 2014 (£49,100). Not bad for a bunch of recreational hockey players eh? With such great charities being represented, there’s no doubt that the events will help a lot of people, not only the money, but the raised awareness of the charities themselves.
I have no doubt that the 2015 event will carry on from the success of previous years, and I can’t wait to get into swing of things again; chatting to team mates, organising training camps, thinking up ridiculous ways to raise money, and generally, just having fun, that’s what it’s all about.
It’s an honour to take part in this event, and I can’t wait to see you all in the summer, until then, mix in a water, stay away from the mustard and play hard.
Aaron ‘Import’ Stewart