Birkbeck students hold ‘London Communities Cup’

Picking up from the successful delivery of a charity fund-raising football tournament by Birkbeck sport management students in 2012/2013, the 2013/2014 students followed suit and a successor football competition was organised. The Birkbeck Sport Business Centre enthusiastically supported the students’ initiative in those tournaments. The students’ willingness to invest time and effort proved to be valuable complement to their academic development in the field of sport management and the Centre welcomes the tradition now being formed of an annual charity football tournament.

We talked to the key organisers of the tournament, all students in one of the academic programmes offered at the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre, Maciej Saj, Luca Franchini and Theo van Herwijnen.

How was the idea to organise a charity football tournament born?

The idea for the London Communities Cup came from Luca in November 2013. While the original idea was to organise a multi-sports event, the football charity tournament organised by last year’s sports management students for the victims of the Sichuan earthquake in Japan changed our minds. We loved their work and what they had accomplished and decided to do something similar for a different charity, Cancer Research UK. We decided to organise our own event, to increase the number of participating teams, and to use the fact that the World Cup in Brazil was taking place this summer to give the London Communities Cup its ‘mini world cup’ structure.

Director of the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre, Sean Hamil, presents the trophy to the finalists

Director of the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre, Sean Hamil, presents the trophy to the finalists

Months of planning and preparations culminated in the event taking place at the Wormwood Scrubs sports grounds in West London on Saturday the 7th of June 2014.

Who were the tournament’s key stakeholders?

During the organisation of this tournament, we have had four main contacts. Academic Director of the Birkbeck sport management programmes Sean Hamil was the first person we decided to contact when we had the idea for the tournament. He helped us with the planning and put us in contact with the students from last year who organised the tournament.

The tournament's poster

The tournament’s poster

Next was the Birkbeck Students Union, and Mr Rob Park in particular. The students union were there to help us make reservations for the pitches, the referees and the goals. They also put us in contact with Mr David Adams from University of London Union (ULU). Mr Adams mainly helped us with the promotional efforts (the design and printing of posters, mass mailing to other Universities’ students’ union representatives…). Finally, Ms Francesca Tiller was our main contact at Cancer Research UK.

Naturally, we have also received a lot of support from our fellow sports management students and friends. One of our acquaintances who is currently working in the fashion industry designed the logo of the tournament for us; another one with a passion for photography was there on the day of the tournament and took no less than 700 pictures of the teams playing; another friend was there from 9am under the rain to help us build the goals; two friends with a car agreed to drive all the way to Wembley during rush hour to pick up the goals for the tournament and bring them back the day after… The list is long!

How happy were you with your own work?

We can honestly say that this first edition of the London Communities Cup was a success on many aspects. First of all we managed to gather 110 athletes competing under 12 different teams. We were also extremely satisfied with the level of diversity. We were a bit afraid that we would end up in a situation where we would have mostly European teams but in fact we managed to get people from 12 different countries! Culturally, this was a fantastic thing. Finally we managed to raise £818.17, which we are very proud of!! We put lots of planning, passion and work into that project and we believe that we did a good job. Of course, there is always room for improvement and that is why we would be happy to give our advice and help to next year’s organising committee, should future Birkbeck students would like to continue this tradition.

German striker Amdom Ghebru against Korea's Taeyoung Jung

German striker Amdom Ghebru against Korea’s Taeyoung Jung

Argentina scores against Nigeria in the Semi Final

Argentina scores against Nigeria in the Semi Final

Can you reflect on key aspects of the academic programme at Birkbeck which were evident during the organisation of the tournament?

We have learned many things from this experience, especially in the area of event management. We believe that one of the greatest challenges was to deal with all the different stakeholders that were involved in this tournament: our customers (the players), our suppliers (the textile company, the referees, and the goal hire company), the people at Cancer Research, and of course the university, on whom the biggest part of our budget depended. They all have different demands and expectations. It is an everyday business reality and the tournament gave us the opportunity to experience this type of pressure and put to good use our knowledge of sport management.

What was also interesting (and challenging at the same time) was the fact that we had to start this project from scratch. The first weeks were about convincing people that our idea was worth putting the necessary time and resources in. In an industry where volunteers still account for a non-negligible part of the total workforce, we believe that this tournament was a good way for us to experience how the demands and expectations of voluntary workers differs from that of paid employees.

The 2014 London Communities Cup Winners: JAMAICA

The 2014 London Communities Cup Winners: JAMAICA

For inquiries related to the tournament please contact the organisers at

For general information about the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

Tel: 020-7631 6763



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