Rugby stars try for Mahdlo fundraising marathon

RUGBY League stars past and present are set to do their bit for Mahdlo Youth Zone by tackling police officers again in a 13-hour marathon game to raise funds.

Last year, the likes of Kevin Sinfield and Barrie McDermott helped raise thousands of pounds for the Oldham charity.

Current Super League stars Mark Flanagan and Joe and James Greenwood also teamed up and took on Greater Manchester Police’s finest in the event.

Inspector Danny Atherton and PC Damieon Hartley-Pickles organised the event last year – and the former took part in all 13 hour-long games.

Barrie McDermott, Police Insp. Danny Atherton, PC Damieon Hartley-Pickles. Kevin Sinfield and Richard Russell

Now they are set to repeat the feat this year on Saturday, January 25 from 7am until 8pm, with Mahdlo also fielding a team of staff at the event at their Egerton Street base.

Billed as GMP Oldham v The Rest of the World, the sports will be changed as this time it is 30 minutes of rugby league followed by 30 minutes of football.

Putting his body through it took its toll on Inspector Atherton, even though he insisted: “It’s only seven-a-side, so it doesn’t sound as bad when it’s seven-a-side!”

He added: “The event was really good. We had tons and tons of people through the door – but it was really tough. The day after I was bad. Putting my socks on was tough!”

Insp Atherton, who himself played rugby league for local sides Higginshaw, Shaw Rhinos and Saddleworth Rangers and still plays Over-35s masters rugby league, added: “A few people who hadn’t played for a while loved it. The feedback has been phenomenal.

“It was massive for Mahdlo. You can really see the difference in the kids that go there. Prior to that, there was nowhere to go so there were cases of them causing annoyance.

“The original fundraising target was £2,000 but we attracted about £1,300 in sponsorship before the event, so we had to raise it to £2,500 – after counting up on the Monday, we were up to £4,060. Even then, we smashed that.”

In addition to the bumper day of sport, Mahdlo will also be running a New Members Day from 10am – 1pm where young people and their parents can come in to see what goes on during a Saturday session for free.

All young people will also get a voucher to enjoy a free slush while they take in the Youth Zone and cheer on the Greater Manchester Police team.

Claire Crossfield, Fundraising Manager at Mahdlo Youth Zone, said: “Greater Manchester Police have supported Mahdlo for the last three years with their marathon events and this promises to be the biggest one yet.

“Our relationship with GMP and in particular the Oldham Town Centre Policing team and St Mary’s is crucial in promoting a strong positive relationship between the police and our young people.

“Damieon, Danny and the rest of the GMP team are such a fantastic influence on our members and we are so grateful to them for their continued support.”

Everyone is welcome to come along and watch throughout the day and there will also be a raffle with amazing prizes available.

Mahdlo is a state-of-the-art youth zone for eight to 19-year-olds (up to 25 for young people with a disability). Open seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, it offers an exciting range of activities and opportunities that all young people from across Oldham can access for just 50p as a member. Find out more on their website.

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