Lillington Juniors FC have shown that football can be a “godsend” by rallying round after the sister of one of the club’s young players died.
Under-11s Colts midfielder Blake Roberts’ baby sister Freya was born with down’s syndrome and had been treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for problems with her heart before she died unexpectedly on June 26 aged just 16 months old.
Since then the club has shown support for Blake and his family and have organised a fundraising cycle ride for the hospital in Freya’s memory.
Blake’s father Adam Betteridge, who recently raised £3,000 for the Down’s Syndrome Association through a charity sky dive, said: “Football has been a godsend for us since Freya passed away.
“Blake’s coaches Mark Edwards and Chris Lee have been terrific and the support from the club has been fantastic.
“The hospital helps so many children with illnesses and disabilities and it’s important to raise awareness of this and put it in people’s thoughts and this cycle will help to do that.”
A seven-strong group of coaches and parents from the club will start the cycle ride at Newcastle Utd’s ground St James’ Park next Saturday morning and ride for 260 miles, stopping overnight in Wakefield and arriving at the Rugby Tavern in Cubbington the next day.
There will be a welcoming party at the pub and people can follow the group’s progress on the club’s Facebook and twitter accounts.
All donations will go to the children’s hospital and club funds, with more than £2,500 being raised already.
Ryan Cranton, the club’s head coach and director, said: “When we set up this club we wanted it to be about more than what takes place on the pitch and we wanted to create a real community off of it.
“When we heard one of our player’s siblings had died it was devastating and we wanted to do anything we could to help. If we can support our players and their families in any way we’re more than happy to do that.”