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National Affinity Cup organisers want to take competition to the 'next level'

THE organisers of what is labelled as the FA Cup of charity football hope to take the competition to the “next level” and say that the “sky is the limit”.

The National Affinity Cup has proven to be a huge success. Photo: iStock.com
The National Affinity Cup has proven to be a huge success. Photo: iStock.com

Stratford Town's Arden Garages Stadium played host to the National Affinity Cup final which was contested between London-based Bradley Lowery Foundation South and Preston’s Fishwick Rangers on Saturday, with the latter emerging 5-2 winners.

The National Affinity Cup was organised by Nick Sanders, manager of Stratford-based Nightingale FC, and Spencer King, of Essex Charity FC, with the aim of bringing charity football to the forefront of people’s minds and to raise funds for vital causes up and down the country.

Sanders told the Herald that he was expecting around 20 teams for the competition but was left amazed when 64 decided to jump at the chance of taking part in the FA Cup of charity football.

While there has been the odd hiccup due to Covid-19 regulations, specifically arranging dates and timings for each round, the overall feedback has been positive and now Sanders wants to take things to the next level.

“We recently put out an interest form for next year and about 98 teams have registered so far and no matter how many teams enter, we will do our best to make sure they’re included,” he told the Herald.

“Ideally we want numbers to fit perfectly but we might have to do preliminary rounds to get down to the 64. We’re looking to take the National Affinity Cup to the next level. We want to get national media coverage and I know we’ll be speaking to The Non-League Paper soon.

“We’re also looking at avenues to get the competition televised, even if it’s just the final. We’re also looking at how we can get commercial companies to sponsor the National Affinity Cup.

“There’s been some early discussions and it seems like the sky is the limit.”

He added: “It’s a case of keeping that enthusiasm going and getting the right people on board to support us.

“We’re starting to realise this could be huge. This could end up being a UK-wide competition or a European tournament that celebrates charities from different countries.”

Reflecting on the success of the inaugural National Affinity Cup, Sanders said he was “delighted and humbled” and said it’s gone “way above” what was expected.

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