Football legend Julio Arca leads Swan Lodge in charity match
published on 3 May 2023
Sunderland footballing legend Julio Arca will lead a team of Salvation Army Swan Lodge residents in a football match to raise money for Amber’s Law - a local charity that campaigns on cervical cancer.
A sporting legend within the city, Argentine national Julio has been training residents at The Salvation Army Lifehouse since the beginning of the year. The Lifehouse provides supported accommodation to people who are homeless, helping improve their physical and mental health.
Swan Lodge will play against a team led by Darren Cliff, father of Amber Rose Cliff, who died in 2017 of cervical cancer. Amber’s Law was set up in her memory to educate people on the importance of regular cervical screening.
The charity match will take place on Sunday 14 May at 1.30pm at 1st Cloud Arena (formerly Mariner’s Park), the stadium for South Shields FC, a team which Julio also played for.
Andy Smith, a support worker at Swan Lodge who has being running football sessions for residents, said: “Our lads and lasses are really excited about the match, not only because they have been training hard for months with Julio and are ready to test their skills in a proper match, but it’s also about raising money and supporting a local charity.
“Our residents take pride in their city and although many are going through their own battles, they want to help other people and support this important cause.”
The Salvation Army’s Swan Lodge provides supported accommodation for up to 65 adults who have been homeless, not only providing a roof but support to help people overcome the reasons why they became homeless and to help them make changes so they can move on with their lives.
Andy continued: “Football and fitness has been a massive part of that. When Julio first started training we had so many people sign up to take part in the sessions. It not only gives a structure to the week and encourages teamwork, there’s also huge benefits in improving people’s physical fitness and mental health. We’ve noticed that people who are committing to the football sessions are managing their addictions better as well.
“Taking part in charity matches gives them a goal to head towards. We want to say a big thank you to Darren and the team at Amber’s Law as well as to South Shields FC who are opening up the pitch especially for us. We hope you will be able to join us and make a donation if you can.”
Julio Arca said he was delighted to support both Amber’s Law and The Salvation Army.
He said: “I was surprised to hear that one in three women miss their smear tests, an appointment which could potentially save a life, so the work that Amber’s Law do in educating and bringing awareness around cervical cancer is vital.
“Then the work Swan Lodge does to help individuals battling addictions and mental health issues is unbelievable. Hopefully, the wellbeing and football training I have been doing with the residents will help them to enjoy themselves on the day. We hope to see as many people there as possible so you get to see the fantastic work that these charities do.”
Darren Cliff said: “Events like this help Amber’s Law to spread awareness to people that haven’t heard of the charity before and hopefully they will tell others of the importance of booking smear tests and keeping their appointments. It’s such a short test that could potentially save your life.
“As with all cancers, if found early it can be treated. Amber unfortunately wasn’t given the opportunity due to routine tests not being available to under 25 year olds and eventually we went private, by which time the cancer had spread. If her cancer had been picked up sooner she may still be with us, so in her memory, we are committed to helping others in the hope that lives can be saved. This will be Amber’s legacy.”
Following the match there will be live entertainment from singer Anthony Stringer. There will also be a number of items raffled off to raise money on the day including signed memorabilia from Sunderland AFC and Julio.
The match is open to members of the public. Tickets are free and donations can be made at the gates or throughout the match. Gates open at 12pm.