One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson has joined the lineup for this year’s Soccer Aid that will help Unicef fulfill its mission of protecting vulnerable children in different territories across the globe. The charity football match is Louis’ biggest project since the band went on hiatus late last year.
Soccer Aid 2016 will take place on June 5 at Old Trafford in Manchester. He will play for the England side with fellow pop artists Olly Murs and Marvin Humes; comedians Jon Bishop, Paddy McGuinness, and Jack Whitehall; presenters Ben Shephard, Jamie Theakston, and Jonathan Wilkes; and reality star Mark Wright. The team will play under the watchful eye of Unicef UK ambassador and Soccer Aid co-founder Robbie Williams.
The England team will compete with the Rest of the World team composed of members like celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, presenter Rickie Haywood-Williams, and former Westlife member Nicky Byrne. Their team captain is actor and Unicef UK ambassador Michael Sheen.
In a press release, Louis said he considers it a privilege to sign up for Soccer Aid 2016 because of the event’s mission.
“I’m really excited to play in this year’s Soccer Aid event. Unicef as a charity, and its workers, continue to amaze me and helping even in this small way is a privilege.”
The match will not be Louis’ first participation on the pitch. In 2013, he joined the Doncaster Rovers as a non-contract player for a charity football match benefitting leukemia-stricken footballer Stiliyan Petrov. He has participated in other charity football events since then, including last year’s Doncaster Legends game, where he captained his own team.
The “Love You Goodbye” singer recently drew the ire of some Doncaster Rovers supporters after he won a design competition with his grandfather. The club asked the public to submit original designs for the new away kit. Five shortlisted entries were put up for public voting, and despite speculation that the voting system was rigged, Rovers insisted that it wasn’t.
Louis and his grandfather designed the kit during his stay in the UK. According to Len Poulston, his grandson visited him for dinner, and they started talking about the kit design. He added that Louis wouldn’t accept the prize – a trip to Thailand to see the first batch of shirts being produced. The prize might be auctioned for the benefit of charities – something Louis is fond of doing.
In August last year, Louis hosted the Believe in Magic charity ball at London’s National History Museum. The museum was adorned with twinkling lights and other magnificent decor because Louis wanted to make the children feel like princes and princesses despite the serious illnesses they are battling.
He donated an estimated amount of £2 million ($3 million) on top of the seemingly trivial items that he bought from the auction with fellow 1D member Liam Payne. Harry Styles and Niall Horan weren’t able to attend the Cinderella-themed fundraiser, but they donated some of their personal belongings.
Several months after the ball, many were also curious about a boy’s photograph that Louis shared on his Twitter page. The boy was revealed to be Harvey Hext, who was taken away at a young age because of an aggressive form of childhood cancer, neuroblastoma.
Harvey’s mother, Sarah, first met Louis’ mother in 2014 at a party hosted by the Believe in Magic charity. Johannah Deakin represented Louis at the event and immediately noticed Harvey and his twin brother Spencer. Having two sets of twins herself, Louis’ mom made a connection with the Hext family.
The Tomlinson family did a lot of things to give Harvey a great time before he passed away. Sarah previously praised Louis for doing good deeds away from the spotlight.
“People don’t know the real Louis, Jay has told me that when Louis suffers a bad press day he says to her ‘come on mum, let’s make someone happy today.’ That’s the kind of man Louis is. Louis Tomlinson is very grounded, he is family orientated and both Louis and Jay hold a very special place in my family’s hearts.”
Louis might be currently embroiled in the “Babygate” controversy some have created, but for people like Harvey’s family, he remains a compassionate man who doesn’t see the need to publicize his involvement in several causes.
[Image via Christopher Polk, Getty Images]