Newbury, Sept 2, 2011 – Sixty eight football mad youngsters were given the opportunity of a lifetime when they got to test their football skills on the pitch at the London Soccerdome under the watchful eye of West Ham Academy Director, Tony Carr MBE, and his coaches.
The youngsters, all of whom have type 1 diabetes, were invited to the former David Beckham Academy in Greenwich, central London as part of a free Around U Soccer skills day hosted by the London Soccerdome and West Ham United’s Youth Academy. The event was sponsored by Bayer Diabetes Care and supported by leading community website Diabetes.co.uk, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Youngsters attended from hospitals as follows:
- Ashford/St Peters Hospital - 4
- Barts and London - 1
- Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital - 9
- Colchester Hospital - 4
- Epsom General Hospital - 3
- Evelina – 2
- Fullwell Cross Medical centre - 1
- Frimley Park Hospital, Surrey - 3
- Kings College – 3
- King George - 2
- James Paget Hospital, Great Yarmouth - 2
- Maidstone and Pembury Hospital, Tunbridge Wells – 8
- North Middlesex Hospital - 1
- Oxford Hospital – 1
- Princess Alexandra Hospital - 1
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital (South London) – 1
- Queens Hospital - 3
- Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading – 3
- Royal London - 5
- St Georges Hospital – 2
- Southend Hospital, Essex – 1
- Watford/West Herts - 1
- Wexham – 1
- Whittington - 1
- Wycombe Hospital - 2
Around U is the programme of activities used by Bayer Diabetes Care to provide advice and materials to help children and their parents/guardians manage their diabetes. The Around U Soccer Skills Day is one branch of the programme and provides football training for young people as well as the opportunity for them and their carers/guardians to meet other people in the same situation and share knowledge and experience. It is a free day designed to demonstrate that even though they have diabetes, it doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy exactly the same sports and activities as others.
During the morning the youngsters were given dedicated soccer coaching while their parents could either watch, or listen to a fascinating talk on the latest research into diabetes.
After lunch the children took the opportunity to compete against each other in a mini football tournament, putting into practice some of the skills they had learned during the day.
West Ham United Youth Academy Director, Tony Carr MBE, who also has diabetes, said: “Around U is the perfect environment for young people with diabetes to practice their football skills and learn how other people the same age, deal with their diabetes.
“I was speaking with a parent whose son was only diagnosed with diabetes three months ago. He said dealing with diabetes was daunting but that an event like Bayer’s Around U helped reassure him that he wasn’t alone.”
Eden Olley, seven from Hemsby, Norfolk, said: “It didn’t matter that there were so few girls here. I made lots of new friends with the boys and had a really good time.”
The football day focused on good control – in the same way that people living with type 1 diabetes have to keep control of their blood glucose levels to ensure they remain healthy.
Andrea Postles, for Bayer Diabetes Care, said: “It’s the fourth year that we’ve held Around U Sports Days and they remain as popular as ever. This year the uptake in London has been fantastic and we were so pleased to see so many young people and their families in attendance.
“It quickly became evident that some of the youngsters have never had the opportunity to mix with other youngsters who also have type 1 diabetes, and so this event will hopefully give them more confidence and strike up lasting friendships.”
Bayer’s Around U programme was launched in July 2008 to support children and young people living with diabetes. Designed to present useful information in a fun and exciting way, Around U provides online information as well as access to free of charge support materials through the website, www.bayerdiabetes.co.uk/aroundu.
An estimated 25,000 children under the age of 18 in the UK have diabetes.
(St Peters Hospital) Robert Pullen, of Staines, Middlesex attended with son, Aaron, seven. He said: “It’s amazing how much has been put into the Around U event. Aaron was three when he was diagnosed with diabetes and over the years has learnt how to look after himself pretty well. Diabetes doesn’t hold him back and he really loves his football so a day like this has been just brilliant.”
(Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital) – Yvonne Perks, of Beggarwood, Basingstoke, attended with her son, Jay, nine. She said: “Jay has really enjoyed the day. Everyone here has diabetes so nobody feels left out or alone. Jay was recently diagnosed with diabetes and we’ve been getting great treatment from the hospital, nothing seems too difficult for the staff and they are really supportive.”
(Colchester Hospital) – Alan Hillier, of Braintree, Essex, attended with son, Jordan, 12. He said: “Jordan was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago and his confidence really took a knock, as he began learning how to deal with his condition. But today he has had a great time interacting with his new friends and just having fun.”
(Colchester Hospital) – Tony Edmeades, of Clacton-on-Sea attended with son, Matthew, 13. He said: “It’s been a good day. It’s been all about football and Matthew is football mad. He’s had diabetes for two years and is getting to grips with it, but he loves his football and is a Colchester fan, and his diabetes doesn’t stop him playing the game he loves.”
(Royal Berkshire Hospital) – Lee Richardson, attended with nephew, Callum Rea, 10, of Theale, Berkshire. He said: “It’s been a good day for all of us, but it’s really all about the kids. Events like Around U bring so many young people together to learn and experience new things. Callum is really good at dealing with his diabetes and we’ll go home happy.”
(Southend Hospital) – Andrew Sinclair, of Hockley, Essex, attended with son, Ryan, seven. He said: “It’s been difficult for Ryan as he was only diagnosed with diabetes three months ago and he is sports mad. But being at Around U has given us all the chance to meet new people, listen to their stories and learn that Ryan can continue as normal, he just has to keep checking himself. Ryan can excel at anything he wants to in life.”
(James Paget Hospital) – Marie Olley, of Hemsby, Norfolk, attended with her daughter, Eden, seven. She said: “I was really surprised to see so many youngsters wth diabetes together at once. It felt really good to be a part of this event and talk to other people who are going through the same things as me. I definitely think we would like to come again if Bayer runs another event next year.”
Online editor of diabetes.co.uk, Benedict Jephcote, said: “Despite there being a number of international class athletes with type 1 diabetes, there is still a common perception that type 1 diabetes is a barrier to taking part in competitive sport. At diabetes.co.uk, we are proud to support the Around U Soccer Skills day to show that these claims are unfounded and that people with type 1 diabetes can compete with the elite.”