The president of the University of York’s women’s football club has pledged to donate to Marie Curie Cancer Care for every goal she scores for the women’s football and futsal teams this season.
Ellie Whittaker, who is a first team player for both teams, will donate £5 per goal she scores during British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) matches in a bid to raise money for the charity. Her story was featured on the BUCS website homepage for Women’s Football Week, which ran from the 6-12 October.
The third-year psychology student’s connection with Marie Curie Cancer Care stems from a first hand experience of seeing the work that the charity does.
Whittaker lost three family members to cancer this year. She told Nouse: “I lost my Nana in May from stomach cancer, two days later I lost my cousin from pancreatic cancer, and four months later I lost my uncle from a brain tumour. I learned that my nana had cancer only at Christmas. Five months later she had passed away.”
The first-team football player wants to raise awareness of the vital care that Marie Care Cancer Care nurses provide for terminally ill people and their families.
She said: “Their nurses are incredible – they support people in the final stages of life. They provided a lot of support to my family, and helped the whole process of death and grieving process more understandable.”
In June, Ellie and twenty friends at the University participated in the York Race for Life in memory of family members that they had lost to cancer. They managed to raise a total of £1,654 for Cancer Research UK.
Whittaker told Nouse: “The fact that I had three people in my family all in a big battle against cancer inspired me, so I put a team together to take part in the race for life in York in June.”
Marie Curie Cancer Care was chosen as the official charity partner for BUCS from July 2014 – 2016. The charity provides care for people with terminal illnesses in their own homes and in nine hospices across the UK.
Within the partnership, money will be raised for the charity through sport-inspired initiatives and fundraising across UK universities involved with the BUCS league.
BUCS Women’s Football Week was held earlier this month with the aim of increasing the number of females involved in football at university. BUCS Football Development revealed that they would donate £1,000 to Marie Curie Cancer Care if female participation at universities increased by 3,000 new female players, coaches or referees by February 2015.
Since this initiative was unveiled, the University’s Women’s Football Club have seen a big increase in participation. Sign ups at Freshers’ Fair have doubled since last year and the club’s beginners’ session has seen twice the attendance of last year. This season, the club have entered a second team into the BUCS league.
Last May, the club organised a women’s five-a-side tournament for Cancer Research UK and they are also planning on organising more introductory sessions to football, with the aim of getting more women involved in football, and supporting the BUCS target of increasing female participation by 3,000 players.
Cass Brown, York Sport President, called Whittaker’s fundraising Ellie’s fundraising “impressive”. She told Nouse: “The fact she’s doing this on top of her degree, playing football and being president of the club is truly inspiring. Her story is overwhelmingly touching and she is a credit to her whole family.
Brown added: “I can’t wait to see her succeed and I wish her the best of luck.”