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Football Marathon 2022

Sunday 11th September 2022

Watford Observer

A football tournament held in honour of a five-year-old girl who died from a heart defect raised more than £25,000 for a children’s hospital.


The Shine for Shani Football Marathon kicked off in style at the PowerLeague centre in Bushey.


The event on September 11 ran for 12 hours with children and adults donning brightly coloured bibs and sporting gear and joining either the Walrus or Bear teams – named after the wards at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) where Elstree’s Shani Berman was cared for before she died in 2017.

A nail-biting finale saw Walrus just run out as winners, picking up the coveted World Cup lookalike trophy.

On a day where hundreds of goals were scored, plenty of great work was done off the pitch as well, with donations, sponsorship, raffles, an auction, and sales of baked goods and sweet treats raising more than £25,000.

The money raised will go towards Shine for Shani's latest project to raise £85,000 for a new extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine for the cardiac intensive care unit at GOSH.

This portable heart-lung machine is a life saver, as it allows critically ill children to have time for their hearts and lungs to recover from surgery or heart failure while the doctors decide the best treatment for the child.


The ECMO machine was not enough to help Shani's survival, but her family saw its amazing medical role whilst she was in intensive care.

Shani's mother and Shine for Shani trustee, Juliet Berman said "It was a brilliant day and we were so pleased to welcome everybody. I loved that people of all ages and sporting abilities had a go - sometimes we had whole families laughing and playing together, sometimes it was a serious competitive match and all the time there was a friendly, encouraging atmosphere.


“We had so many girls and women playing this year too, perhaps inspired by the Lioness Euros winners! It was wonderful to raise so much money and we are very grateful to all who donated."

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