What I Know - John Gamble

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John Gamble is the organiser of TackleAfrica Football Marathon, at 12-hour charity challenge which has been running in Jersey for the past eight years

John Gamble is the organiser of TackleAfrica Football Marathon, at 12-hour charity challenge which has been running in Jersey for the past eight years
  • I have been involved with the charity since 2007 when my brother twisted my arm to take part in this 12-hour football marathon on Clapham Common in London. ‘So it’s just one big game where you all sub on and off?’ I asked. ‘No’, came the reply. ‘It’s miles better than that. You actually play for the whole 12 hours...’ To this day I still don’t know why that appealed.
  • In 2011, TackleAfrica were discussing how to grow the event further. The idea of smaller ‘regional’ marathons was proposed and having played in the event since 2007 I was asked about Jersey. I thought it would work. I spoke to a few people, received lots of enthusiasm, and we decided to give it a go.
  • Six teams played in that first Football Marathon in Jersey. The winners were Real Invalid and we raised £6,500. To date, we’ve raised more than £80,000.
  • The format involves squads of eight playing six-a-side football for 12 hours, all organised into one super-tournament. We kick off at 8 am and the final whistle for the grand final goes at 8 pm. Matches last 20 minutes with three to four minute turnaround between games.
  • TackleAfrica uses football as a means to engage with and educate young people about HIV, sexual health and other social issues. You can see how it works, see the innovation at work and understand why it’s important.
  • The event itself is a challenging day, but it’s fun. The first ever football marathon was a bunch of mates going for a 12-hour kick-about in the park and to this day we’ve retained that feel to it. It’s competitive in the later stages but it’s played in the right spirit. Nobody is there to kick lumps out of each other. We’re all there to play football for 12 hours, knowing we’re doing something special for an extraordinary charity and being able to smile at the end of it. I love the whole thing. The music, the atmosphere, the football, the camaraderie. From start to finish – it’s just people enjoying themselves. Some people email us in January asking for the date so they can plan annual leave and not miss it.
  • We’ve had some great team names over the years... Real Invalid, Colonel Getafe, AC Little Silhouette of Milan. I also like the more obscure ones: Boca Seniors – anyone?
  • Jersey is the best place I have lived, followed by Australia. Both places have a great mixture of outdoor lifestyle, very friendly people, beautiful coastlines and scenery and a thriving centre.
  • My parents taught me to never stop learning (they are both teachers). Also, to be yourself, respect and help others, work hard, sort problems and have fun.
  • We seem to be moving towards a more isolated and less community-focused society. Barriers and borders seem to be going up, when everyone has ultimately benefited from peace and prosperity through borders and barriers coming down. We live in a world, not just the country we happen to currently reside in. We have a duty to respect it and those we share it with.
  • I’m a technologist and if the advances that have taken place in my lifetime continue then my children’s world is going to be a very exciting place. If we can provide them with a strong set of values and a great education system then I’m optimistic.
  • My favourite spot in Jersey is Grève de Lecq, closely followed by the views from the hill above St Catherine.
  • The last time that I really belly-laughed was when I was out for dinner with my wife. She has a very clever sense of humour.
  • If I could re-live one day of my life it would be my wedding day. From beginning to end, it was fabulous.
  • My favourite time of the day is sunrise. It is always spectacular when the day is just beginning.
  • If I could create one law it would be minimum standards and fair prices for rental properties in Jersey. If you’re going to have a non-quals sector then it shouldn’t be so restrictive.
  • My biggest regret in life is selling an England Team Specific ticket for Euro 2004 in Portugal in order to buy a cot. Wayne Rooney was on fire at the time!
  • My family are the thing that makes me happiest. My biggest fear is not being there for my children.
  • My top tips for surviving the Football Marathon are:

1. Earn ‘seeding’ points ahead of the event by hitting, or exceeding, your team’s fundraising target. These get added to the points earned in the group stages and can give you a much easier draw than otherwise.

2. Pace yourself and conserve your energy. Rotate subs and switch the goalie every couple of games.

3. Take your nutrition and hydration seriously. Real food (eg sandwiches, savouries, fruit, etc) is miles better than sugary snacks. The exception here is jelly babies, I eat loads on the day! Drink water whenever you can and isotonic drinks the rest of the time.

4. Use sunblock, even at 8 am. Get a base layer on and top up every so often. Wear a hat when you’re a sub.

5. Play with a smile on your face.

Ramsay Cudlipp

By Ramsay Cudlipp


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