Sunday, May 08, 2011

EuroChampsChallenge Festival of Football

Jump in the car at Celtic Park and arrive two weeks later at Wembley. Along the way visit 20 cities and 21 football clubs in 10 different countries.

And, inspired by a seven year old boy, try and raise £100,000 for charity.

21 football clubs? The 21 winners of the European Cup.

That's the challenge Robin Blacklock set himself. Next Sunday the quest will begin. Joined by three friends on every stage of the journey - 16 countries will be traversed in a car provided by Ford - the team hope to meet a 'Medallion Man' at each club.

That's European Cup winning players. Names like Jim Craig. Like Gerd Muller.

It's a road trip reimagined as a whistle stop tour of modern European football.

Robin's EuroChampsChallenge was inspired by his son Angus.

Angus was born two weeks early with only one ear. That condition, microtia, also affected his mouth and speech.

At the age of seven Angus has undergone over 15 operations. Undergone them with a stoic cheeriness and a love of football.

It's his bravery that will be honoured by the money raised with the Sick Kids Friends’ Foundation and Changing Faces the nominated charities.

The Sick Kids Friends' Foundation supports Edinburgh's redoubtable children's hospital. Changing Faces supports people in the UK with disfigurements to the face, hand or body.

Robin has struck on a unique way of helping two very deserving causes.

Yesterday in East Lothian a Festival of Football was held, giving Robin's home village of Aberlady the chance to give the EuroChampsChallenge team a huge send off.

Hundreds of local youngsters, representing teams from across the county, were involved. I'm pleased to say that the boys did so with a talent that I rarely displayed on the same playing fields a couple of decades ago. So did the girls.

There were also a number of local footballing deities on show. In a legends bounce game Paul Kane looked fat, Keith Wright looked knackered, John Hughes looked to have reinvented himself as a libero, John Collins looked like he could still play in the SPL.

And Colin Nish was there as well.

A great day that hopefully raised more cash towards that £100,000 target.

A fun, relaxed, family day. Don't say nothing positive can come from football.

And I even got my picture taken with the European Cup.

Robin and the team begin their quest next Sunday. Good luck.

Visit EuroChampsChallenge to lend your support.

Or just get your phone out:

Text to donate £3: text "CHAMPS" to 70003 (Text Costs £3 plus network charge. Sick Kids Friends Foundation on behalf of EuroChampsChallenge receives at least £2.67, shared equally with Changing Faces. Obtain bill payers permission. Customer care 08448479800. Charity No CR44723.)