As a nonprofit group, the YMCA relies heavily on donations and community support to keep the doors open and their various programs afloat.

With that in mind, the YMCA of Dover came up with an interesting addition to their annual campaign to raise funds: a 24 hour indoor soccerthon beginning Saturday, Feb. 18.

The brainchild behind the idea comes from Dover YMCA assistant program director John Gilroy, who was born just outside of Manchester, England.

“I first saw [a soccerthon] a couple of years ago from English television,” Gilroy said. “They did it over four days and they raised over a million pounds.”

A lifelong fan and player of the sport, Gilroy thought this would be a great way to include a growing sport on this side of the pond while also using it as an opportunity to raise important funds for the YMCA and its programs.

“Hopefully, it’s the first of many,” he said.

The event, slated to begin on the third Saturday of February at 1 p.m., is open to players ages 18 and over. Currently there are 54 total spots open for players, who should plan on participating in two four-hour games over the 24 hour period. Games are played 7-a- side with two subs each.

The cost is $60 per player, which includes uniforms, food and drinks. Players who sign up early will have gym time available to them at the Dover Y every Thursday evening leading up to the event from 8 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.

There will also be prizes and raffles available at the event, including memberships, gift baskets and season pass giveaways. And, for those who can’t play, pledge forms can be filled out at the Dover YMCA.

While the YMCA will still offer 24-hour spin, zumba and swimming events during their annual fundraising campaign, the soccerthon will offer a unique challenge for those who join.

“I would tell them it’s definitely going to be a big physical challenge,” Gilroy said. “It’s not that serious, but we’re looking for people who are up for that challenge. Personally, I’m looking to do eight hours and about 40 miles. So, I’m looking to run between 30 or 40 miles, which is more than a marathon in a 24 hour period.”

As for the greater good of this event, Gilroy stresses the importance of raising funds through events like the upcoming soccerthon.

“It’s so important, we donated $507,833 to the community last year, we raised over $200,000 of that,” Gilroy said. “It helps open doors, programs which help families be able to afford the Dover YMCA and allows us to give them memberships for discounted prices.”

Those interested in signing up for the event or looking for more information should contact John Gilroy at jgilroy@ymcade.og