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Lan The Baron World Cup 2015

Giancarlo Gaglione, brother to Lanfranco, reports back from another fantastic annual Lan The Baron World Cup tournament, in memory of his brother Lanfranco, and raising money for CALM:

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“As the dust settles on another successful Lan The Baron World Cup tournament, I reflect on the journey that has led us here, and how football is bringing people together to talk about suicide.

In February 2012, my youngest brother Lanfranco ‘Lan the Baron’ Gaglione, aged just 26 years, took his own life. Since that day I’ve been campaigning relentlessly to raise  awareness of depression and suicide. Whilst I have been involved in a variety of different charity events over the years,  it’s the Lan the Baron 5-a-side World Cup that is starting to create a bit of a legacy. 

In its fourth year, I’ve learnt a lot about organising and running this event. This year we redesigned our website to make it more accessible,  improved the online booking system so 90% tickets were purchased in advance; we managed the results and fixtures on the day online, purchased new goals which can be setup in under 2 minutes,  hired FA approved referees and even got press coverage in the local paper; yes, early on it was clear that this year’s tournament was going to be better than ever! 

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My Saturday night was spent marking out pitches and by 9am on Sunday morning, a small team of volunteers gathered on a somewhat rainy Downhills Park to make the magic happen and turn our plans into reality. Unfortunately for us the day had bit of a soggy start, but it was probably for the best as the players appreciated the softened grass. By 10am we’d finished setting up and the players were starting to arrive. The reds from Denmark, the yellows of Brazil, the blues of Scotland, one by one Downhills Park was being painted in the glorious technicolour of a hundred footballers’ shirts.

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Just after 11am it was time to give my briefing to all the players. This was my chance to let everyone know the running of the day, general information and most importantly why we were all here. Before I began I asked the group how many newbies were here? Half the crowd put their hands up. It was great to see. When we first created this event our main aim was to raise the awareness of depression and suicide using football. Year on year we consistently see half the people who turn up being new to the event and it’s really fulfilling to realise what we’ve set out to achieve.

By 11:30 it was time to kick off, The 16 teams had been divided into four groups and over the next few hours the teams would battle it out for the top two places to progress to the knockouts. A few teams were short of a few players and it was endearing to see players from other teams offering to help. In fact the Netherlands team finished top of their group and didn’t even turn up! This year we also introduced a wooden spoon tournament for the teams who got knocked out at the group stages.

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As the teams slowly progressed we were left with the final four: Italy, England, Scotland and Wales. The semi finals were fiercely contested but by the slightest of margins both England and Wales progressed to the final. The England team were previous winners and a pre-tournament favourite, whilst Wales were in their fourth tournament having never progressed past the semis. However, football is a funny old game and Wales, with the help of their lucky mascot (a red cuddly dragon) pulled it out of the bag and were crowned deserving champions. Turkey were the proud winners of the wooden spoon. Another year, another successful Lan the Baron World Cup.

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My mum is incredibly religious, and every year on August 5th we remember Lanfranco’s birthday by going to mass at church as a family. But for me, the Lan the Baron World Cup provides a great way of remembering Lanfranco, that can live on for years, bringing awareness to those in need and building a legacy for the community to enjoy. My dream is that my daughter and son, approaching 3 years old and 6 months respectively, will one day play in that tournament, with their dad retired and cheering from the sidelines.”

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