Rotherham United Community Sports Trust were delighted to welcome Myles as mascot for our recent home fixture against Sheffield United. The Trust have an excellent relationship with the Free Kicks Foundation who kindly donate mascot packages to deserving local children.
The Free Kicks Foundation is a Peterborough based charity whose aim is to provide football-related activities for ill, bereaved and disadvantaged children, to give them a day to remember with their favourite football club. The charity is run on a voluntary basis by Steve Thorpe and Sam Downing. Steve’s main responsibility is fundraising as well as using his extensive media contacts to gain publicity. Sam is the Kick Co-ordinator, she liaises with clubs, hospitals and families to ensure that the children have a day to remember. In 2018, The Free Kicks Foundation are 11-years-old and have donated over 800 match day experiences to deserving children young adults.
Myles, age 10, works with Rotherham United Community Sports Trust coaches at his school and has renal kidney failure. His health has deteriorated over the past year to the point where Myles is now on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Throughout his illness Myles has remained positive, trying hard to sustain a balanced diet and exercise to support his physical health, even when he is tired and in pain. He has built trusting relationships with the school and Trust staff who support him in managing his condition is able to share how this makes him unique. He is currently working on his self-esteem and confidence and has ‘found his voice’, that we are all very pleased to hear and hope this continues. Myles went behind the scenes pre-match where he met all of his Millers heroes before heading out on to the hallowed turf for the special occasion.
Kieran Batham, who works for the Community Sports Trust and works with Myles in his school, said: “This was Myles’ first game at the stadium due to his illness and I think it is safe to say he loved it. I work with Myles on a regular basis and know how much effort and hard work he has put in so to see the smile on his face makes it all worthwhile. The staff at Wath Victoria Primary School also really enjoyed the day and the work they have done with Myles in school in fantastic, I have seen a huge transformation. I was chatting to Myles’ mum and she was in tears when he was on the pitch saying it helps to take his mind off of the treatment, the Free Kicks Foundation are such warm and kind hearted people, so please donate if you can.” he added.
“Myles absolutely loved his day and was early to school on Monday eager to share the tales! I would like to place on record my thanks to Rotherham United Community Sports Trust for their organisation of the day and The Free Kicks Foundation for giving him this incredible opportunity. Myles was chosen as this year he has shown an excellent attitude towards increasing his physical activity levels to help with his health problems. Myles participates with Rotherham United at lunchtimes at our school and has become more resilient and active in P.E. lessons. He has also worked hard on improving his conversational skills and general self-esteem which has resulted in him becoming more independent and he now recognises his own successes and is rightly proud of himself. Not only was this a fabulous day for Myles, but it was also very special for the people who accompanied him. In school, Myles is supported with his intimate care needs by Clare Shaw and Karl Dempsey and it was amazing from the point of view of the school to be able to reward the two members of staff with such a wonderful day too and be able to share it with him. It was amazing for them to be able to see Myles take part in such an activity; something which when they started working with him three years ago they thought he would never have the confidence to take part in and enjoy. Along with his mum, they have seen his remarkable change at first hand this year and they were incredibly proud to watch him lead out his local football team on Saturday. Again I would like to thank the Free Kicks foundation for their selfless work which gives children like Myles an opportunity in his life that he would have never dreamed of and given him a day to remember for the rest of his life. On behalf of Myles, his family and the staff at Wath Victoria Primary School thank you and we are eternally grateful,” added Jonathan Parker, Year 6 class teacher and assistant head teacher at Wath Victoria Primary School.
Chief Operating Officer Paul Douglas added “Everyone at Rotherham United is very grateful to The Free Kicks Foundation for their work and how they support Rotherham United Community Sports Trust. Having met Sam and Steve last season I came to understand the fantastic and selfless work they do and hope we can develop a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with them”
“After such a warm welcome from everybody at the football club and Community Trust last season, we were delighted to purchase even more mascot packages for The Millers return to The Championship. It was a pleasure to meet Myles, his mum and teachers on Saturday and amazing to hear the difference that knowing he was going to be mascot has made to his confidence in the build up to the day. Thank you to Gary and the team for inviting and looking after us to what was a very entertaining game,” added Steve Thorpe from the Free Kicks Foundation.
Sam Downing, also from the Free Kicks Foundation explained: “It was lovely to meet up with Myles and his mum and to hear from her directly exactly how much of a positive impact the day had had on him. It's so good to know that between us we are able to make such a difference to the recipients of these packages.”
“I was contacted by the Free Kicks Foundation last season and after speaking to them the work they undertake is incredible. I am delighted to say we are entering our second season as partners but most importantly is the lasting impact the work has on our local community. We know Myles had a brilliant time and he is very deserving with the health issues he has faced so we are delighted to play our part in helping him to build his confidence and self-esteem further,” added Gary Webb, Operations Officer for Rotherham United Community Sports Trust.
After the big day, Myles very kindly sent us in the below letter and image thanking us for having him. It was our pleasure!
To find out more about the fantastic work of the Free Kicks Foundation please visit http://www.freekicksfoundation.org/