Monday 11 May 2020, 12:59

Stars stand #TOGetherAgainstCorona with The One Goal

  • Big names are supporting The One Goal’s COVID-19 campaign

  • Organisation is headed up by Hedvig Lindahl and Daniela Porcelli

  • Stars’ jerseys and boots can be won while raising funds for WHO

Among footballers, as in society as a whole, there exists a genuine desire to help those less fortunate. But faced with an unprecedented global pandemic and its myriad consequences, the inevitable question of where to begin can seem imposing.

With #TOGetherAgainstCorona, The One Goal has provided a simple answer. The not-for-profit organisation, which is headed up by Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl – an esteemed veteran of five FIFA Women’s World Cups™ – and Daniela Porcelli, has been seeking, and finding, players willing to donate their jerseys and football boots.

Those stepping forward have included some of the biggest names in women’s football, with Lucy Bronze the first of the all-star cast to be revealed - and daily updates planned to unveil the others. The sought-after items these champions and FIFA Women's World Cup medalists have donated can be won by ordinary fans, with entry tickets starting from just £5 – and proceeds benefiting the most worthy of causes.

“Eighty per cent of the money raised will go to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund,” explained Porcelli, a well-known photographer in the women’s game. “The other 20 per cent is then decided by the player in question.

“Every other day, we will have a new jersey online and everyone who buys entry tickets has the chance of winning something really cool and unique. I think lots of people would be happy to donate to this cause anyway but, with this, there’s also the excitement of trying to win something very special.

“When everything blew up with the pandemic, Hedvig and I were just thinking, ‘How can we help? And where?’ As we saw that the WHO’s work is truly global and that, through this fund, they are tackling the work that needs done most urgently.”

The next step was convincing the stars of women’s football that this was a campaign worth supporting. As Lindahl told “I know from experience that players get requests for jerseys so often and it’s always a case of looking and thinking, ‘Is this something I want to support?’

"Fortunately, the response to this campaign been really positive. I think we all feel connected in this fight against COVID-19 and, in some ways, this is an easy way for us as footballers to help.”

Hedvig Lindahl of Sweden saves a penalty from Janine Beckie of Canada

“Initially we started with only a few players,” Porcelli added, “but very soon more and more joined. Now we’re up to 20 and every day I have someone new getting in touch. It really does feel like a dream coming true.”

That dream is outlined on The One Goal website, where Daniela recalls a childhood conversation with her mother. “I asked my mum: ‘If everyone who has money gave me one dollar, I would have millions and could give it to people who need it, right?’ Unfortunately that’s not as easy as it seems. But I can try.’”

Indeed, #TOGetherAgainstCorona is simply the latest cause taken on by The One Goal, which started in 2018 with the purpose of using football auctions to benefit small, worthy projects within the sport. The idea was Porcelli’s and, in Lindahl, she found a kindred spirit.

“I had never actually met Hedvig before all this,” the Swiss recalled. “I knew who she was, of course, as a big fan of the game and through my photography. But it was when I had this idea – of getting boots and jerseys from players and auctioning those off for different sports projects – that a friend recommended I get in touch with Hedvig. I ended up speaking to her after a match, we stayed in touch by email and, within a few months, The One Goal was born.”

“From the get-go, we had big ambitions,” said Lindahl. “The question was always how realistic those ambitions were, given our other commitments. For example, right now I’m speaking to you while my youngest son is asleep and my other son is busy playing with his Lego. Time is not something we have a lot of!

"But although progress has been fairly slow, the ambitions to grow the organisation have always been there. We definitely want to be a serious actor in the women’s game.”

And if #TOGetherAgainstCorona has proved anything, it is that – even with women’s football bigger than ever – there remains a genuine sense of tight-knit community within its players and supporters.

“It feels almost like a family,” reflected Porcelli. “Some of us involved in this campaign don’t even know each other but you have the sense of one big network supporting each other. And the more players get involved, the more others see that and think, ‘That’s a cool thing – I’d like to get on board too’. My hope is that this is just the start.”