16 teams battled it out for the chance to be crowned the second ever Women’s Copa Del Cure Leukaemia champions at the home of the Lionesses, St George’s Park, last week.

The first women-only tournament took place in March 2023 and was a resounding success, so this year the event returned even bigger and better. Hosted by Sky Sports presenter Johnny Phillips and talkSPORT’s Natalie Sawyer, over 200 players took to pitches at St George’s Park alongside a stellar line-up of former pros.

Liverpool Women’s record goalscorer Natasha Dowie, former Arsenal and England striker Jodie Taylor, ex Tottenham and Birmingham City defender Kerys Harrop and former Liverpool and Sheffield United forward Courtney Sweetman-Kirk were among the 16 former professionals to take part.

After battling it out of the FIFA-approved 3G pitches and living like a Lioness for the day, participants then enjoyed an evening dinner, followed by a question and answer session with England and Aston Villa striker Rachel Daly, former Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and ex Everton and Brighton defender Fern Whelan.


Companies and clients from across the UK entered the tournament, including the Premier League, ITV Sport, Women in Football, Carling and last year’s winners Booths. The Professionals Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) provided referees from the Women’s Super League and Championship to officiate all the games, while sports therapists from University College Birmingham were on hand to provide participants with massages in between matches.

It was a highly competitive tournament with the final contested by Ballers FC and Talent Hire FC. Ballers FC edged the showdown 2-0 to clinch the prize and among their squad was this year’s player of the tournament Chloe Coldicott.

Courtney Sweetman Kirk was eager to return after taking part in the first ever Women’s Copa Del Cure Leukaemia last year.

“I was super happy with my team topping our group on the day, but it is obviously all about taking part and seeing so many female footballers in one place is so inspiring. To see the increase in the number of teams and players from the first edition last year is incredible.”

“I can’t believe the difference – a bigger event means more eyes on the charity and the work taking place which is fantastic. I was so happy to be asked to play in the inaugural competition in 2023, but the fact that it continues to grow, hopefully I can be stood here saying the same thing for many years to come.”

Former Scotland international Frankie Brown is now a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University and her research is centred around exercise inventions for treatment of blood cancer patients.

“Clinical trials are hugely important. For Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) patients, which my research is focused around, you don’t have a huge amount of medical intervention early on, so the idea that they could take a bit of ownership by taking part in exercise and making themselves feel better was amazing – and we couldn’t perform this type of research and clinical trial without the support of the likes of Cure Leukaemia.”

“So much of our research is funded by charities like them, so without days like this, it wouldn’t happen and we wouldn’t be able to do this for our patients.”


Cure Leukaemia’s Chief Executive James McLaughlin spoke during the event about the growth of the women’s tournament and its importance in raising the profile of the charity across the UK.

“You look at today and we’ve gone from 12 teams last year to 16 teams. We could’ve had more and it’s a sign of the growth over the last 12 months. We’ve all said the calibre of the football and the intensity has raised up a level in the last 12 months.”

“What’s been great is we’ve had ex-pros come to us after hearing about the tournament saying they want to be a part of it, which for us is brilliant. The new companies coming in and the size of the companies taking part is a sign of where the tournament has been in the last 12 months. For us, it’s where the tournament could be in the next 12 or 24.”

“The biggest thing is to raise funds from the event and our previous mixed gender Copa tournaments over the last few years have done a fantastic job with that. It’s also raising awareness about who Cure Leukaemia are. There are a number of firms who may not know who we are, but they like the fact they can come to the home of England football teams and experience the event itself.”

“The most important part of today is about businesses leaving us knowing more about the charity and the amazing work currently taking place across the country.”

After the final whistles blew, players were able to kick back and relax and listen to stories from Rachel Daly, Karen Bardsley and Fern Whelan as they spoke about representing the Lionesses, the incredible growth of the women’s game and inspiring the next generation of female players.

All the proceeds from the Women’s Copa Del Cure Leukaemia are donated directly to Cure Leukaemia, and the ongoing battle to eradicate all forms of blood cancer, a disease which has affected many players and their families within football in recent years.

If you would like to get involved in the 2025 edition of the Women’s Copa del Cure Leukaemia, please click here

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