As a big fan of American sports, if you talk to me about ‘football’ you’ll probably get me thinking and talking about touchdowns, quarter backs and Superbowls. But, as an Aberdonian by birth and—much to my grandfather’s chagrin—a Londoner by accent, I was brought up in a country where Saturdays stand still to watch ‘the beautiful game’. I love the passion, excitement and, to use a very American phrase, the ‘emotional rollercoaster’ that goes hand in hand with ‘soccer’ (OK, ‘football’ from now on!). I am an adopted Norwich City fan and, whenever I confess to this, the first thing people remind you of is not our Goss’s wonder goal against Bayern Munich but a certain TV cook shouting ‘Where Are You?’ at a packed stadium. Now that was passion!
The reason I am musing about this is that, as part of the launch of our partnership with The Football League, bloggers from around the country are discussing their club’s top 5 number 9s (and their one to forget) over the years. But I am not writing this blog simply as an attempt to jump on this number 9 bandwagon (whilst re-declaring my love of NFL). Nor were these bloggers asked to write about this just for bit of nostalgic banter. The cold hard fact is that one in nine men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime - a fact we really need to hit home and to get people to think about. One in nine – that’s a truly shocking figure. That’s more than one man in every football team.
Prostate Cancer UK volunteer, Dave Annand, is one of those one in nine. Dave is supporting us throughout the season, and he and former England and AC Milan forward, Luther Blissett, helped us kick off the partnership last week. By working with people like them as well as supporters, club bloggers and The Football League we hope not only to raise awareness of this disease throughout the country but also to raise the funds we need to address the long term challenges that still exist around prostate cancer.
If we are to reach a stage in the near future where we have the best possible diagnostic tools and treatment for this—the most common cancer in men—then we need to start investing much more heavily in a broad research programme that speeds up our learning about the disease and the discovery of new treatments. Furthermore we need to ramp up our investment in a specialist community nurse programme and continue campaigning for policy change to ensure that each of the 40,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer every year throughout the UK have the best support and treatment possible. Every penny raised through partnerships such as this helps take us forward in achieving these important goals for men.
So, The Football League partnership has got off to a flying start, and it has brought home to me the simple fact that every man is an individual, and can be helped, have his memory jogged and his thoughts provoked by just one conversation. If, throughout the season, and in all that we do, we can get people thinking and talking about prostate cancer, then we will be well on our way to achieving our goal.
The possibilities of our partnership with the Football League brings to mind the most famous quote from one of Britain’s greatest managers, the legendary Scot, Bill Shankly (which was para-phrased from the slightly less legendary American Football coach, Henry Russell Sanders): “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” Let’s hope our partnership with The Football League provides this famous quote with a new significance, and that the 2012-13 season will not just be about the football—but about something much, much more important than that.
Here’s to 2012-13 being a season saving men’s lives.