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Winners at the 2024 SBC Awards North America

EPIC reach the ‘Champions League’ final!

An EPIC Risk Management team did the company proud by reaching the ‘Champions League’ final… although admittedly it was a charitable five-a-side contest based on the competition’s format, rather than the actual UEFA showpiece event!

An eight-man squad achieved the feat at the Manchester regional leg of this year’s Business Fives, which raises money for good causes, including our official foundation, EPIC Restart Foundation. In doing so, they also secured the right to play at this year’s national finals, which are scheduled to take place in Leeds on Tuesday 18th April.

Coming just four months after a successful visit to London saw EPIC win the Corporate World Cup, presented by the Corporate 5s Cup, a slightly-changed squad produced another impressive performance in a similar competition for workplace teams, with only one opponent – CBRE – having the quality to defeat the EPIC Risk Management line-up.

In a field made up of teams representing noteworthy names like LADBible, Total Fitness and Morson, EPIC were placed in Group B of the initial ranking competition, to see which of the three incarnations of European competitions they would be placed in for the knockout stages – the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League.

Thanks in no small part to the consistent finishing of programme facilitator Marc Williams (pictured above), some sterling goalkeeping from head of communications Matt Hennessey and a hard-working team ethic, back-to-back 5-3 victories over Haines Watts and Mackinnon Bruce secured a quick passage to the ‘Champions League’ tournament, guaranteeing a top two group finish. Only EPIC’s later nemesis CBRE prevented the team from topping the group unbeaten, winning a tight contest 2-1.

With a quarter-final place assured as runners-up, a tough test was expected in the first knockout game against free-scoring Group A winners DF Capital, but the team in red gave them a taste of the medicine they had been dishing out to their group opponents with a stunning 7-1 victory. Williams was again among the goals, with some fine strikes also coming from the boots of head of business development Mike Holinski and director of business development Martin Bland, with one of the latter’s noteworthy strikes caught on camera here.

The semi final against Sedulo was a tale of two goalkeepers. EPIC peppered the opponents’ goal for the majority of the ten minute fixture, only for their inspired keeper to block almost everything thrown at him. However, defending a narrow 1-0 lead in the final minute, EPIC were caught out by a late equaliser against the run of play, which led to a sudden death penalty shoot-out. Williams and Bland held their nerve to score – the latter at the second attempt after having his first strike ruled out for taking too many steps – and then it was Hennessey the hero as he produced an acrobatic stop to block Sedulo’s second penalty.

That success guaranteed not only a passage to the final, but also a place in the Business Fives national finals day in Leeds next month… but there was still an event on the day to go on and win. Just as in the group stage, the contest with CBRE was high on quality and effort, but ultimately decided by another 2-1 triumph for the commercial real estate services and investments specialists.

Having secured runners-up position, the team qualified for a medal ceremony at the post-tournament presentation, with the mementoes presented by former Manchester City, Spurs and Sheffield United midfielder Michael Brown.

Communications manager Adrian Ward, playing in an EPIC Risk Management sporting event for the first time, felt it was an afternoon that benefited multiple parties, explaining:

“All of us who were granted the chance to take part are grateful that the company puts staff wellbeing high on the agenda and seeks to offer special team building days like this when suitable chances arise.

“This was a particularly good fit for us, given the geographical location of the core of our UK staff and the fact that the key aim of the tournament was to raise money for each team’s nominated good cause, which in our case was the EPIC Restart Foundation, which continues to support so many people in recovery from problem gambling.

“It was a smoothly organised tournament, well officiated, and on good playing surfaces, so we thank Business Fives for putting on the event and EPIC Risk Management for supporting our team’s entry.

“Doing so well on the day was a welcome bonus and we look forward to the next chance to represent the company with pride in a different setting to usual.”

EPIC squad: Matt Hennessey, Martin Bland, Liam Dyche, Mike Holinski, Andy Margett, Matt Mason, Adrian Ward, Marc Williams.

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