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Doing it for the kids

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Chris Charles | 10:09 UK time, Monday, 8 March 2010

It's the dream of every football-loving dad to one day see his child play for the team he loves. For me it's a case of when, not if.

It's not that little Lois is being touted as the next Wayne Rooney (even Arsenal don't take on under-2s - yet) but having Down's syndrome, she qualifies to play for the QPR Tiger Cubs - a side made up entirely of children born with the condition.

Of course, Lois has to learn to walk first (at 23 months she has perfected the fine art of bum-shuffling) but when she reaches the magical age of seven, she'll be turning up at Tiger Cubs HQ decked out in the blue and white hoops - whether she wants to or not.

QPR are one of six football clubs in England who run teams for children with Down's syndrome - Fulham, Charlton, Manchester United, Hereford and West Ham make up the rest - and supporters of the scheme are confident these numbers will continue to grow.

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Patricia James, corporate fundraising officer for the Down's Syndrome Association, said: "It all started when a colleague of mine spoke to Fulham in 2006 about disability football. A pilot scheme for the Fulham Badgers was launched later that year, and it got a fantastic response.

"We had been getting feedback from parents of children with Down's syndrome who couldn't find any sporting activity for them to do. Eighty five per cent of these children are enrolled in mainstream primary schools, but when it comes to physical activity they often get left on the sidelines because their oxygen intake is up to 40% less.

"With this initiative, the children are becoming more active and gaining confidence. It's also very important for their emotional and social development. Unlike sport in the mainstream schools, it's a level playing field for everyone and they can take what they learn on the training pitches into the classroom and everyday life."

QPR Community Trust chief executive Andy Evans, who oversees the Tiger Cubs, concurs. "It's been phenomenal," he said. "The kids get an incredible amount of satisfaction, a sense of belonging, and it provides a support network for the parents where they can share common experiences.

"I've heard stories of children in mainstream education being called up in assembly wearing their QPR kit and the whole school giving them a round of applause because they're playing for the Tiger Cubs."

Training sessions are held every Monday night and the most difficult task facing the coaches is getting the children to leave the pitch at the end.

Head coach Adam Finch explained: "We try to keep the sessions as energetic as we can and we also have a fundamental group where we concentrate more on the motor skills - running, skipping, jumping, that sort of stuff.

"It's fantastic, always good fun. Some football sessions can get a bit stale, but never with the Tiger Cubs. It's always new, fresh and exciting - and if the kids are excited, you can't help but get excited as well."

The scheme first came to my attention last year, when the team showed off their skills during a half-time display at Loftus Road. The crowd were right behind them, cheering every goal that went in, and the kids milked the applause that came their way.

I'd be lying if I said it didn't bring a tear to my eye, but it also made me realise that any preconceptions I had about Lois not being able to do the things other children took for granted were misplaced. Let's face it, after coming through major heart surgery at three months old and having to be fed through a tube for a year, kicking a football around should be a doddle.
Lois Charles - photo by Caroline Briggs

We didn't know Lois (pictured right) was going to be born with Down's syndrome - in fact after the 12-week scan, the nurse confidently predicted there was a one in 8,000 chance - so when we found out it was a shock to say the least. But you learn to adapt and nearly two years on, I can honestly say I wouldn't have her any other way.

Birmingham City midfielder Lee Carsley, whose 11-year-old son, Connor, has Down's syndrome, agrees. "You can get burdened down with it or take it in your stride," he said. "Of course you still think about it every day but if you lay in bed worrying about it all night you'd never be able to get anything done.

"I treat all my kids the same - I'm no different to any other Dad. I love them all - although sometimes they can be a pain!"

Carsley is a tireless fundraiser in his role as patron of the Solihull Down's syndrome support group and is in talks with Birmingham's new owners about the possibility of setting up a team in the mould of the Tiger Cubs.

He said: "I think it's a really good thing for the kids and can only be beneficial. Connor goes on some football coaching classes but they're all at different levels and he sometimes gets left behind.

"He's proud of me and what I do but while my other kids understand my role, Connor's a bit of a glory hunter. He wants me to score a goal and that's it. It would break his heart if he knew I haven't scored many!"

Carsley's former Everton team-mate Kevin Kilbane is patron of the DSActive charity, encouraging children with Down's syndrome to get involved in sport, and is heavily involved in promoting teams like the Fulham Badgers and QPR Tiger Cubs.

The Hull midfielder, who won his 103rd cap for the Republic of Ireland against Brazil, has a five-year-old daughter, Elsie, with Down's syndrome, and handed out the medals when the Badgers and Cubs recently teamed up to play a visiting Hong Kong XI.

"It's a really important scheme and it's gaining momentum by the week," he said. "The work the team has put in has been phenomenal, but it would be great to get more kids involved. At the moment there's not that much competition for the children with Down's syndrome or any other disability and I'd love every club to one day have its own team."

As for Lois, she turns two on 9 April, meaning it will be a mere 1,825 days before I finally get the chance to see her in action for the Tiger Cubs. The first two years of her life have coincided with extraordinary goings-on at my club that have seen a succession of managers come and go, leaving a team tipped for promotion embroiled in a relegation battle.

The changing of the guard in the boardroom, coupled with the arrival of football's Mr Motivator, Neil Warnock, will hopefully steady the ship, although even Warnock would struggle to replicate the drive and enthusiasm shown by the Cubs.

Indeed some of the footballing prima donnas ticked off by England coach Fabio Capello last week could do worse than pop down to witness this unbridled passion first-hand. And not a WAG or a Ferrari in sight.

On 10 April, a few of us will be walking from QPR's Loftus Road ground to Crystal Palace's stadium at Selhurst Park - ahead of the game between the sides - to raise money for the Tiger Cubs. Find out more here.

Comments

  • 1. At 11:19am on 08 Mar 2010, Phil wrote:

    Hi Chris, thanks for sharing this blog and making it so personal.

    What a fantastic initiative this is! Hopefully with more media coverage, this could take off and other clubs could also set up teams. Its a great way to give something back to the community. Surely the FA should get involved too? Football is a game for the people.

    I hope Lois makes it into the team, im sure she will have a great time, with you pushing her on :)

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  • 2. At 11:25am on 08 Mar 2010, StarfireReturns wrote:

    Excellent blog Chris. I can appreciate this being difficult for you to write. kinda puts a lot of thigns about the game into perspective here.

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  • 3. At 11:29am on 08 Mar 2010, Rabster wrote:

    What a great blog. Best of luck to young Lois when she makes her debut for the Tiger cubs. A 'Wondrous Story' indeed.

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  • 4. At 11:29am on 08 Mar 2010, LABSAB9 wrote:

    What a brilliant scheme, shame a few more clubs don't have something similar in place!!

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  • 5. At 11:44am on 08 Mar 2010, GazUtd wrote:


    Hey Chris, probably the finest blog ever written for BBC Sport. Maybe even the whole BBC website.

    Powers that be - Do you see what happens when you allow journalists to write from the heart about something they know!

    Chris the only thing you are forgetting is that in 1,825 days you will probably be the QPR manager as they'll have used everyone else by then. So we can look forward to the first ever father/daughter partnership up front!

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  • 6. At 11:47am on 08 Mar 2010, socrates wrote:

    Fantastic stuff.

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  • 7. At 11:51am on 08 Mar 2010, Rebecca aka Becky aka Beks wrote:

    Brilliant blog.!!!!!

    I look forward to a match review when she makes her first game!

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  • 8. At 11:55am on 08 Mar 2010, Hibs-Beer-CoD-Girlfriend in that order wrote:

    What a wonderful blog. It really is something different but reading it and watching the video really brightened up my pretty miserable morning at work.

    I suppose when you aren't related to someone who has a condition like this it's not something you think about a lot but everybody in this country deserves to be treated the same and given the same opportunities as everyone else and I am delighted for the Cubs and the other clubs that have similar set ups. I can only hope for more clubs to start setting up similar things.

    If I'm still in this job in 7 years (God help me) then i am looking forward to the blog of Lois scoring a hattrick on her debut for the cubs.

    Great stuff

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  • 9. At 12:02pm on 08 Mar 2010, Andrew wrote:

    Some of todays footballers could do alot worse than donating some of their vast salaries to help schemes like this.

    A brilliant idea and hats off to all those involved.

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  • 10. At 12:03pm on 08 Mar 2010, Scott Jones wrote:

    Fantastic article.

    I'm a QPR fan and inspired by the work that Andy Evans and his team are doing I will be running the London Marathon in aid of the Down's Syndrome Association.

    More info is here http://www.justgiving.com/scott-jones-london-marathon

    I look forward to seeing Lois in the Hoops! Once again, a great piece and all the best with the walk to Palace

    Scotty

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  • 11. At 12:17pm on 08 Mar 2010, Mark F wrote:

    Great Blog. I am a QPR season ticket holder.
    I would like to participate in the walk on the 10th april , how do i get involved.
    Tks.

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  • 12. At 12:28pm on 08 Mar 2010, Barry Critch wrote:

    Chris, what a great article. Only 1,825 days till we see Lois in the hooped jersey. The countdown is on.

    Good on you all for all the efforts that are put in.

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  • 13. At 12:30pm on 08 Mar 2010, city_boy wrote:

    Fantastic piece of writng Chris, you put such an important point across without preaching or looking for sympathy.
    It's very touching and well done to all those involved, access to sport should be for everyone.
    I always liked your blogs before, but have a new found respect for you now.

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  • 14. At 12:37pm on 08 Mar 2010, Rovers Return - HKR AWAY DAYS wrote:

    Best of luck to all involved!

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  • 15. At 12:44pm on 08 Mar 2010, Mark Corlick wrote:

    Superb....!

    The best of luck, your friend, Carlock xx

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  • 16. At 12:51pm on 08 Mar 2010, Patrick Smith wrote:

    My beloved daughter carried Downs syndrome. She would have lovd to get ivolved. She would have loved to be with all the boys ! All power to those clubs with the heart to get these projects up and running . You will never know how much these children appreciate your efforts. They are the tops! And so are the organisers. God less you all. Patrick Smith

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  • 17. At 12:53pm on 08 Mar 2010, Lagellerotumblero - Show goes on after 606 wrote:

    Wow, what an inspiring story. Chris, I'm used to reading you blogs filled with rubbish stuff ;-), but today's has been different. Thanks for sharing such a personal story with us.

    In this part of the story, Down's Syndrome is a very, very rare sentence, we're used to AIDS and malaria...but after reading your blog I'm gonna read more on the syndrome, because I'll be a parent in the future.

    Thanks once again, best of luck with Lois.

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  • 18. At 12:58pm on 08 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    Afternoon all - thanks for all the positive comments. I'll be showing them all to Lois in a few years' time to spur her on!

    1. Phil: Yes, it would be great to have teams the length and breadth of the country - and indeed the rest of GB and Ireland. Londoners are spoilt, with five teams to choose from (West Ham have two) and it would be good to give parents living outside the capital the chance to get involved with this fantastic scheme.

    2. StarfireReturns: Only second comment? You're slacking! I wouldn't say it was difficult to write, but yes it's fair to say there's quite a bit of emotion invested in the article.

    5. GazUtd: Wow, praise indeed - although I think Nick Robinson might have something to say about that!

    8. Hibs-Beer: You're right, unless you happen to be one of these remarkable people who give their life to helping out others less fortunate than themselves, it's not something you would think about an awful lot. I knew a couple of people who had brothers and sisters with Down's syndrome, but it's fair to say I did not get that involved until Lois was born.

    9. Andrew: That's why I spoke to Lee Carsley and Kevin Kilbane, to give the Premier League perspective. For all we say about footballers, a large number of them do donate to good causes of their choice, although as Lee said, Down's syndrome is not a particularly fashionable charity.

    What he did say was that team-mates at every club he's been at have been really supportive - on one occasion the Everton coach came straight from a game to a charity ball in Solihull and the players trooped off, still in their club suits, staying for a few hours before hopping back on the bus again.

    10. Scott Jones: Good luck with the marathon - I may well have a go at that next year. One step at a time, though!

    11. Mark F: There's only going to be a handful of people taking part due to safety regulations, but I'll find out your details and see what the score is.

    13. city_boy: Cheers - makes a change from writing about funny chants and daft happenings in the world of football!

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  • 19. At 12:58pm on 08 Mar 2010, Lagellerotumblero - Show goes on after 606 wrote:

    SORRY! I meant 'this part of the world' not story...What was I thinking?!

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  • 20. At 1:09pm on 08 Mar 2010, ViewFromThePaddock wrote:

    The Tiger Cub initiative is one of the few things QPR has done recently to make us proud to support the club.

    Will never forget the sheer joy the kids showed by scoring in front of The Loft and then celebrating on a lap of honour (some lads even ran round the ground a couple of times, such was the applause they were enjoying).

    Would've been great if some of the first-teamers we've seen over the last few years had shown the same passion and pleasure in wearing the blue and white hoops.

    C'mon U Cubs! C'mon U Rs!

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  • 21. At 1:19pm on 08 Mar 2010, GazUtd wrote:


    Chris, don't worry about comparing yourself with Nick Robinson. He's a United fan so obviously you can't compare ;)

    But he does suffer from the terrible affliction of refusing to shave those last vestigaes of hair off!

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  • 22. At 1:21pm on 08 Mar 2010, JacksfromBuxton wrote:

    A wonderful piece of journalism from a top class dad as well as journo.Great to read something positive about disability.

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  • 23. At 1:39pm on 08 Mar 2010, Charles wrote:

    Very good blog and some nice comments as well, certainly better than what you usually get on here!

    My brother is in the Fulham Badgers, which were mentioned in the blog. At the moment they are fundraising to finance a trip to Hong Kong in order to play a Downs Syndrome team from over there - The Hong Kong Dragons.

    The link to the Fulham website explaining this is here: http://www.fulhamfc.com/Club/News/NewsArticles/2010/February/SupportTheBadgers.aspx

    On the page there is a link to donate if anyone is feeling generous. Thank you.

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  • 24. At 1:45pm on 08 Mar 2010, Dunc wrote:

    Cracking blog and this scheme seems brilliant. Makes me really proud to be a Rs fan when you see stuff like this, particularly as there are very few clubs that are involved. I remember the Cub's half time performance and it was an inspiring sight. Good work Chris.

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  • 25. At 1:52pm on 08 Mar 2010, Marc Jenner wrote:

    Chris,
    Great blog and I am equally impressed with the fantastic response you have received from those that have taken the time to read it. Heart-warming indeed.
    As a Fundraising Manager for a charity that works with children and families dealing with Downs Syndrome, I am extremely keen to approach Clubs in the South West to see if we can encourage them to follow the likes of Fulham, QPR and Hereford. Can you suggest a good point of contact at any of the clubs/charities currently involved that we could possibly speak to, just to gain an insight into how they went about getting set up?
    Thanks so much,
    Marc
    www.bibic.org.uk

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  • 26. At 1:55pm on 08 Mar 2010, NCFC champions 09-10 wrote:

    Its things like this that make football seem so insignificant. I would have thought more clubs would be doing this kind of thing as its a great chance of getting involved in the community. Best blog Ive read in ages

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  • 27. At 1:59pm on 08 Mar 2010, Sue Baker wrote:

    Its great to hear from another parent
    As the Mum of Natalie who plays for Fulham Badgers (first DS team set up)We are the lucky ones having kids/young people who show amazing care for each other and congratulate each other on scoring no matter which side they are on. Even if you dont like football, just watching these teams makes you realise life is pretty awesome.
    Look forward to meeting those attending the festival on Sunday.

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  • 28. At 2:07pm on 08 Mar 2010, Roonaldo109 wrote:

    Cheers Chris. Motivational, inspiring stuff

    Please pass on my best wishes to Lois! =)

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  • 29. At 2:21pm on 08 Mar 2010, Qwerty wrote:

    Great stuff Chris and QPR.

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  • 30. At 2:55pm on 08 Mar 2010, collie21 wrote:

    Hiya, you have thrown quite a beautiful curve ball. I am a father of two and I am very grateful I don't as yet have your trials. I grew up with a lad who sister had the same condition and for a while as a teenager I helped out at the local school that was specifically for disabled kids. My brother went out with a girl whose brother was a great big lad but also had the condition and I was acutely aware in the 1970's how difficult it was for that family. Later still I found myself in monaco, playing table tennis. I was struck by the way many of the adults reacted to playing against the local care facility. Some of the people had downs syndrome, others had other problems. You daughter no doubt will bring you amazing joy and love. I am writing as a dad and as a bloke and I know it's not always easy, but there are many other outlets possible for the amazing energy these kids have. Win or loose at the table tennis they seem quite happy. I got beaten in my 3 matches, I won only one, and that was because the girl I played against disregarded the rules. When I told the score keeper I lost she was visibly shocked. I think she supposed because I am apparently fit and able I would have thrashed these 'lesser' kids.
    +1 to all the commenters who are congratulating you on your blog, frankly I am sick of the private lives of footballers and the private life of someone a bit more on my level is refreshing reading. I have told you before, if you ever get here, I will buy you a pint, you can add cook you dinner onto that one now :-)

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  • 31. At 2:57pm on 08 Mar 2010, collie21 wrote:

    Just to add, as a blogger myself, I find that when you write from the heart, and write intelligently, humanity responds in kind.

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  • 32. At 3:18pm on 08 Mar 2010, Desi McGrady wrote:

    Chris amazing blog, finally back to what makes football worth while.
    With all the pathetic press coverage of footballers and their private lifes, (everything that is wrong in football today) this blog has brought a smile back to my face!!
    Thank you!!

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  • 33. At 3:39pm on 08 Mar 2010, Davd Smith wrote:

    Yes, a really great blog. As someone who has a daughter on the autistic spectrum, it does make you look at things with a very different perspective once you've had a child with a disability. The other great thing which comes out of this blog, which I'm lucky enough to experience occasionally through the work I do, is that sport is a great leveller and a superb way to embrace people with disabilities and other challenges in life. Well done Chris for highlighting these issues and good luck with the fundraising walk!

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  • 34. At 3:41pm on 08 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    Sorry for the delay - back to the usual job of finding quotes and getting Robbo's piece into blog format!

    15. Mark Corlick: Carlock you old devil - where have you been? You don't call...you don't write. Only joking - glad you like it and see you for a Dame Edna soon.

    16. Patrick Smith. Hi Patrick, thank you for your very touching comment. You're right, the people who give up their time and energy into setting up such projects cannot receive enough praise. The look of enjoyment on the kids' faces is something to behold.

    17. Lagellero: I started reading your full username about two o'clock - now wonder I'm so behind! Yes, you're right of course, makes a change from the usual rubbish I inflict upon you.

    20. ViewFromThe Paddock: Amen to that. This project is something we can all be proud of - and it's not just the Tiger Cubs that the QPR in the Community scheme look after - there's schemes for local kids, over 65s and a plethora of other initiatives. All involved - and in particular Andy Evans - deserve a big pat on the back.

    22. JacksfromBuxton: Cheers ears - you're not so bad yourself!

    23. Charles: Yes, Fulham just pipped QPR to first place (no change there, then). It would be fantastic if your brother could get to play in Hong Kong. How old is he?

    25. Marc Jenner: Hi Marc, good to hear from you. I would suggest getting in touch with Patricia James, quoted in this article, at the Down's Syndrome Association. She is heavily involved with the football side of things and could hopefully steer you in the right direction.

    27. Sue Baker: Hi Sue, nice to hear from you too. Yes, forgot to mention that there is the first Down's Syndrome festival of football being held this coming Sunday at Fulham's training ground in Motspur Park, featuring teams from Fulham, Charlton, West Ham and QPR. Not sure of the timings but sure someone reading this will know.

    30&31. Collie21: They're not really trials - although the five-hour wait at Gt Ormond St waiting for news of Lois's heart surgery was a little hairy - you just have to learn to adapt. Of course it's a little tricky at first as you're stumbling into the unknown - but we're getting there slowly but surely - although admittedly my better half does a lot more of the group stuff than I do because I'm at work full-time. Loving the table tennis story - and yes if our paths ever meet, pint and dinner it is!

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  • 35. At 4:04pm on 08 Mar 2010, Mark F wrote:

    Hi Chris
    Thanks for your reply - If i can have an email address or the best way to get in touch, would be great as i would love to participate.
    tks.

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  • 36. At 4:10pm on 08 Mar 2010, HugoMalim wrote:

    Brilliant article!
    I live in France currently but once my contract will end here and return to the UK, I'll see how I can get involved with the Fulham Badgers to help these kids.

    My brother has a another type of syndrome so I can only sympathise with you Chris.

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  • 37. At 4:29pm on 08 Mar 2010, JacksfromBuxton wrote:

    34. At 3:41pm on 08 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    Sorry for the delay - back to the usual job of finding quotes and getting Robbo's piece into blog format!
    _____________________________
    There's a thought.How do you take down his drunken ramblings?Dictaphone and luck?

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  • 38. At 4:29pm on 08 Mar 2010, collie21 wrote:

    by the way she is a cutie :-) .......

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  • 39. At 4:52pm on 08 Mar 2010, BarnsleyOffside wrote:

    I was in the away end when the Cubs came on at half time (Barnsley).
    Really great stuff, and some of them were really good. Certainly much better than my team, who conceded 5 goals!

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  • 40. At 5:13pm on 08 Mar 2010, yottskry wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    Lois is adorable! I wish her success in the career you intend to force upon her ;)

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  • 41. At 5:28pm on 08 Mar 2010, Rotunda10 wrote:

    Superb article:

    As a single parent of a 4 year-old with DS, I know only to well the challenges and trials, but mainly triumphs you experience all the time; hardly any of them to do specifically with Lois I'd bet.

    Being in Cornwall, we don't have a huge (or even a medium-sized) sporting franchise who have the funds and goodwill to put schemes like the Tiger-cubs into place, in fact, sadly, the bigger sports clubs (mainly 2nd/3rd tier rugby), are only interested in stuff that gets big media exposure and their name splattered across the press and radio.

    I think it's great to see clubs recognising the acheivements and needs of those with DS and setting up opportunities like this. The likes of Kevin Kilbane, in particular, are constantly being featured in DSA newsletters putting hard work and effort into sporting events.

    Good luck to and thanks to all those kind-hearted bloggers who have been interested/inspired to make a difference, aprticularly those doing the marathon for the DSA etc. The feeling of satisfaction from helping is 100-fold the effort it takes, I guarantee you.

    Good luck to youself, your family and of course Lois in the future, and who knows, one day, a Cornish team may run something similar, or (at a push) even Plymouth Argyle

    T Richardson

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  • 42. At 5:54pm on 08 Mar 2010, Tom wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    What a fantastic article, and a really heartwarming initiative. After reading it I got straight on to the Derby County (my team) website and I've emailed our own community officer, as well as the club in general, mentioning all of the great things highlighted by this blog and urging them to consider setting up a scheme of their own.

    As a 22 year old lad just out of university and not considering a family any time soon, I guess I wouldn't under normal circumstances be the target demographic of this article, but I certainly found it really inspiring. My niece was diagnosed with leukaemia aged two years old, and has recently been given the all clear after two years. I remember the anxious hospital waits, and I can fully appreciate how much more nerve-wracking it must be as the parent of the child.

    Fantastic stuff.

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  • 43. At 6:43pm on 08 Mar 2010, Simon Mahon wrote:

    hi brilliant blog
    i hav a brother with downs and he goes to play football at manchester united all the time where he has a really good time.
    he goes to a special needs school now but he used to go to mainstream school and it was a great oppourtunity for him and my parents to mix and socialise with people in same position as them as well as being on a level playing field.
    in many ways my brothers easily pleased, it just takes a jam sandwich for his supper to put a smile on his face but the football has just added to the list and he gets really excited on the days when he knows he has fotball

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  • 44. At 6:45pm on 08 Mar 2010, PaulyBoy wrote:

    Great article Chris!

    Thanks for sharing..

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  • 45. At 6:58pm on 08 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    Evening all - apologies if I don't reply to many more comments tonight as picked the QPR star of the future and big sister Nancy up from the childminder an hour ago and am now in the middle of the bedtime rush. Will log in again Tuesday morning and get involved again then. In the meantime....

    36. HugoMalim: Bonsoir! Any help would be most welcome I'm sure.

    37. JacksfromBuxton: Amazingly he manages to email it in! Probably from the pub, but hey.

    39. BarnsleyOffside: Yes, very humbling - did you see the guy doing the break-dancing? He's in the video contained within this piece.

    Ah yes, those were the days when we were hitting four or five a game, although in fairness the scoreline flattered Barnsley. Who'd have thought your lot would be above mine after that game? Incidentally, my previous favourite memory of QPR-Barnsley was being directly in line with Trevor Sinclair as he scored THAT goal.

    40.yottskry: Yes, she gets her looks from her mother, obviously.

    Only joshing - if she really doesn't want to take part I won't force her - although I'm sure she will....please Lois!!

    41. RotundaD10: Great to hear from you and thanks for your comments. I'm guessing Plymouth may also be too far for you - I know their press officer quite well so can ask if they are planning any similar schemes in the future. You're right of course, many challenges and trials, but the rewards when she does something new are well worth all the extra effort.

    42. moley_15: What a guy! Well done on your prompt action and I hope you get a favourable response from Derby. So glad your niece is on the mend too.

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  • 46. At 8:57pm on 08 Mar 2010, orafferrty wrote:

    great blog and no suprise to find Fulham up there as pioneers of this type of project The work our chairman has done for the community without seeking any public acclaim is understood by the folk who matter to him the fans and the local community Fulham has an outstanding community program and it is with great pride we sing that there is only one Fin Fahed when he makes his occasional touchline appearances.Sadly some one who provides so much employment and enjoys a reputation among us cottagers as an honorable man of principle is still not deemed worthy by the powers that be to be be granted a British Passport.Mr chairman far more important than your passport is the fact that you are a true gent and the best chairman Fulham has ever had!

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  • 47. At 9:43pm on 08 Mar 2010, BryanGer wrote:

    Wow what a great idea. I watched it because I have a brother who has downs syndrome and he is mad about football. These kids/adults just need a nudge in the general direction and they pick things up quickly. Just like anyone else they like what they like. great article.

    Bryan Fotheringham

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  • 48. At 9:44pm on 08 Mar 2010, Ronan wrote:

    Brillant article and a joy to read.

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  • 49. At 10:39pm on 08 Mar 2010, HuwB wrote:

    Best of luck to Lois for her burgeoning QPR debut Chris, and thank you for this inspiring article

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  • 50. At 11:57pm on 08 Mar 2010, NP1977 wrote:

    Chris, I have to say this caught my eye on the BBC Football Website. What an absolutely superb blog – It’s really made my day. My future brother in law (i'm getting married next year) has Down's and he is encouraged to play as much sport as possible. He has already won a numerous medals in the gymnastics for the Special Olympics. This is such a fantastic initiative and something that I would love my own hooped team (Glasgow Celtic) to take on board! Full credit to QPR and all the best for Lois’ debut!

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  • 51. At 01:10am on 09 Mar 2010, Spitfire wrote:

    Hello Chris,

    superb blog indeed. My regards and best wishes for the whole family.

    I am however a bit surprised that for all their community initiatives, my beloved Arsenal are not one of the clubs to be already involved in this great venture when everyone knows if its got something to do with kids and football, they are at it.

    As another poster has already taken lead by getting in touch with Derby County, as a club member, I'll make sure to get in touch with the Arsenal. I am sure by the time lovely Lois will be 7, she could make her debut in the league Cup, if she were given a chance at Arsenal.

    No one should subject innocent children to the horror, that is, QPR.

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  • 52. At 03:57am on 09 Mar 2010, ThatWasDeliberate wrote:

    Phil,

    Thank you for drawing our attention to the bivalence of pathology. As a life-long sufferer of severe insomnia--I sleep 3 hours a night and medication is neither helpful nor wanted in my case--I had thought 'normal' pursuits would be impossible. Harnessing my insomnia, I earned 2 Doctoral degrees in 4 years and am flourishing. Do I sleep much? No. Might I die young? Yes. But I know, as you've come to know, that, to borrow Blake's collocation of a "golden cage", a debilitating hardship can well be used to beautiful ends. Thank you for being so candid in your journalism and for sending the message, as I glean it from your writing, that the contemporary British culture of pathology should not, and must not, impede upon an individual's quality. And that, quality, you and your child have in abundance. Bravo. I mean it.

    Cheers,
    TWD

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  • 53. At 07:06am on 09 Mar 2010, Spitfire wrote:

    Morning Bo,

    why cant we just stone him?

    Just kidding.

    Goodbye.

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  • 54. At 07:06am on 09 Mar 2010, Spitfire wrote:

    Sorry. Wrong Blog.

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  • 55. At 08:24am on 09 Mar 2010, carl wrote:

    Brilliant article!!! I too have a child with Downs Syndrome, he is nearly 5 years old and surprising me everyday. He is mad on football and would love to play in a team every week, i did not think that it would be possible but you have showed me that it is. Closest team to me seems to be Hereford so hopefully he will now be able to have every boys (and Dads) dream.
    Thank you for enlightening my day.

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  • 56. At 09:22am on 09 Mar 2010, oldstafford wrote:

    Great blog Charlsie, such a heart warming piece.
    All the best to you and the family and I hope you raise lots of money on your walk.

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  • 57. At 09:30am on 09 Mar 2010, Megan wrote:

    What an excellent concept.

    Must trundle round and ask Crewe Alex if they'd be interested - they do a lot of outreach particularly with local primary schools.

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  • 58. At 09:38am on 09 Mar 2010, Megan wrote:

    Just e-mailed Crewe Alex's Youth & Community Development programme with a link to this blog - I'll let you know if they're interested in doing something up here.

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  • 59. At 09:39am on 09 Mar 2010, theboyjon wrote:

    Chris, great blog, and well done to the BBC for leaving it on the sport front page for a decent amount of time.
    We're in a similar place in life. I have a three-year-old daughter, Zoe, who has Down's syndrome and a genetic heart defect that required an operation when she was three weeks old.
    She's incredibly active and is developing a nice left peg (like her dad - just a shame about my right). I'm hoping she'll get involved in the Special Olympics when she's old enough, although if my local side (I'm an Evertonian living in Leeds) started a football scheme like this then I'd definitely try to encourage involvement.
    Here's to Zoe and Lois leading the line for the GB Special Olympics football team in about 20 years!
    Finally, nice one to all the posters above. It's really great to read such positive comments - especially from those who have no obvious connection to Down's syndrome. I was completely ignorant until the day of our 20 week scan, when my world flipped upside down but, I've got to say, everyday since has been a learning experience and Zoe has taught me more about the world than I'll ever be able to teach her. Great to hear such positive views from everyone.

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  • 60. At 10:48am on 09 Mar 2010, BaggieMike wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    Fantastic article, well written and very thoughtful.

    Anyway thats all the praise you are getting out of me, after you forced us down into the play offs - again. Still got a game in hand over forest so we can get back into the automatics if we stop conceding......

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  • 61. At 11:04am on 09 Mar 2010, twhv wrote:

    Chris - Great to hear what a personal impact the QPR project is having on you and your family.
    Quite a few posters have asked whether certain PL clubs are involved in this work - and if not, why not. I know from personal experience that they do a huge amount themselves - not just providing opportunities for people with a variety of different disabilities to play football (check out Everton's work in that area for example: http://www.evertonfoundation.org/-3/section-2), but also running a range of other really innovative community programmes. Kickz is a great example, a project that tackles problems on inner city estates, helping give youngsters with little positive to do after school some real focus in their lives. It's got 30,000 young people involved now, and over 100 projects are being run by 40 PL and FL clubs (including QPR - worth a look Chris). Police across the country are seeing dramatic drops in anti-social behaviour and other incidents of petty crimes where Kickz projects are run.
    Another important thing that is also often overlooked is that is only thanks to funding from the Premier League that any of this sort of work takes place. Money from the PL's broadcast deals not only supports all of the work undertaken by the twenty PL clubs' community trusts and foundations, but also funds the entire Football League Trust - the body that looks after all of the community activities run by the other 72 Football League clubs.
    It's not a particularly headline-grabbing story - but worth bearing in mind next time people look to knock the PL.
    (And to Spitfire - worth having a look at the great work Arsenal have been doing in and around North London over the past 25 years - their community team celebrated their anniversary two weeks ago and brought out a really good report into it: http://www.arsenal.com/community/arsenal-celebrates-25-years-of-community-work)

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  • 62. At 12:05pm on 09 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    Morning all. Wow - lots more comments to digest. I'm really touched by the amount of people who've taken time to leave their feedback and share their stories - and if just one club decide to set up their own team for children with Down's syndrome on the back of this, it will be a fantastic achievement. Right, here we go....

    46. orafferty: Yes, hats off to Mohammed Al Fayed and Fulham for starting the ball rolling. Despite being West London rivals, I've always had a soft spot for Fulham since the days my great-grandmother used to regale me with tales of how as children they used to be let in free for the last 10 minutes of every home game.

    47. BryanGer: Hi Bryan - how old is your brother? Would he qualify for one of these football scheme?

    50. Niall Parfitt: Hi Niall - crikey, there's not many who can claim they've won Olympic medals! Good to hear that your future brother-in-law is so active. Might be worth dropping an email to Celtic to see if they have any future plans to get involved. And good luck with next year's nuptials!

    51. Spitfire: Ha ha! Well actually we live smack in the middle of Arsenal and Spurs and if Lois really decided she didn't want to be a QPR fan then I wouldn't stand in her way if she wanted to defect (providing they have teams set up by then). Actually, what am I talking about? Sorry, Lois, it's QPR or nothing - Daddy knows best! In the meantime, it's definitely worth making inquiries with Arsenal to see if they may set up something similar. Also, see comment 61.

    52/53/54: Yep, definitely the wrong blog, chaps!

    55. carl: Never mind me enlightening your day, you have just made mine! So pleased that as a result of this piece your little lad could get the
    chance to become a 'proper footballer' - let me know how you get on.

    58. Megan: Nice one - really pleased people are taking the initiative to contact their local clubs and hope it will make said clubs think 'we should be doing that'.

    59. theboyjon: Yes, our experiences are very similar - and I'm pleased both our girls are doing so well after experiencing surgery at such a tender age. Be fantastic to see them line up in the Special Olympics together and maybe one day they'll be meeting in the cup final as QPR take on Everton! As I've said to other posters, it's definitely well worth contacting your local club to see if they have any future plans - and if you need any assistance or advice, go the Down's Syndrome Asscoiation website. http://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/

    60. BaggieMike: Come on, we had to win one game - just a shame for you it was against the Albion. If we continue playing in the same fashion for the rest of the season then I reckon we stand a good chance of beating the drop. As for your lot, it should make for an interesting duel between yourselves and Forest for that second spot.

    61. twhv: Thanks for sharing that - good to see so many clubs doing the right thing. After years of prima donnas, rising ticket prices and administration, it's about time we heard some positive news.

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  • 63. At 12:19pm on 09 Mar 2010, Onurb wrote:

    Hi Chris,
    Great story and heartwarming to see football helping Down children to exercise and to socialise. I live in France, am a great follower of English footie, and am the father of a 3-year old boy with Down, and since the day we learnt about his condition, I have been secretly dreaming of him doing some sport one day. Not sure it will be possible, nothing is sure, but your story and the club's disability teams give me a lot of hope.
    Good luck for Lois and her football.

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  • 64. At 12:51pm on 09 Mar 2010, laura wrote:

    Dear Chris

    My brother was born with down syndrome last year and i think that the football scheme is great. I am in childcare myself and within communitiies these are the types of things which provide a great source of inspiration to children with down syndrome.
    I feel that its extremly important to encourage more football teams around the country to become involved.
    I am, currently living in australia until i return homne in august im very very keen to become involved in setting more schemes up around the country.please could u point me in the right direction as to who i can contact in regards to making this possible.
    Good luck for lois we all know girls make better footballers anyway!

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  • 65. At 12:59pm on 09 Mar 2010, tractorbhoy SIR BOB - GENIUS - keep 606 wrote:

    A touching read that goes someway in restoring my faith in football. Its nice to see in these days of the business of football that some clubs are doing something actually worthwhile. No disrespect to the youngsters involved in this program but whereas most football teams set up youth programs to discover the next superstar and thereby saving/ making themselves a pot of cash it is unlikely to be the case for these players. This seems to be done purely for the good of the kids involved and making the community a better, friendlier and more inclusive place.
    Chris it sounds like you have made alot of people think and also take action with their local clubs. Hopefully it will start something nation wide and possibly in a view years time little Lois may be taking part in a game to win the Chris Charles cup named after her dad who gave so many people the idea to get involved or start a team!

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  • 66. At 1:07pm on 09 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    63. Onurb: Nice to hear from you - and glad the piece has given you some hope. Everyone I have spoken to says taking part in sport is very beneficial for kids with Down's syndrome, so I hope your little lad can participate in something when he gets older.

    64. laura: Indeed - could have done with a few girls in our team earlier in the season, we might be challenging for promotion instead of battling relegation! Best person to contact is: patricia.james@downs-syndrome.org.uk

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  • 67. At 1:22pm on 09 Mar 2010, Mick Shackleton wrote:

    I work at Bradford City on matchdays (Scoreboard). I have organised a charity dinner for the Bradford Burns Unit but also the Down Syndrome support and training group - Bradford. Its the 25 yr anniversary of the fire this year and its also the 10 year anniversary of the DS group - a group my 6 year old son attends.

    I'm hoping Dan will be be pulling a claret and amber shirt on in the not too distant future and kicking a ball about through the football in the community programme run by Ian Ormondroyd.

    Our event which is on the 17th April is looking to generate funds for both causes. Interest in the event has been great with a sell out of 480 getting closer. www.worldcupwarmup.org.uk

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  • 68. At 1:34pm on 09 Mar 2010, Nick wrote:

    Chris, as many people have commented on before I have to say this is a great article and gives able people a kick up the butt in to going out and doing something however small.

    I know a lot of Football clubs do an amazing amount of work in the community that is not just to do with football as well. I have just sent an email to the club I support, Arsenal who do many amazing things as some and sent them the link. I also did the same with my local team Brighton.

    If everyone can send emails and get behind the clubs then maybe there can be more half time matches in other stadiums. It might not just matches with DS but also other disabilities that then might help other parents or inspire other people to get involved.

    Maybe the PL and or FA could do this to promote the good that football does do instead of all the negativity it puts on itself. How about trying to get a half time match at the FA Cup Semi Finals or Finals.

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  • 69. At 1:59pm on 09 Mar 2010, Nick wrote:

    Chris, Why not do more blogs highlighting the excellent things that all the clubs are doing in the communities in their areas especially in the lower leagues as they rarely get any mention or publicity which they so often need.

    With all the fines that the PL, FL and FA hand out, do they go into good causes as well? Maybe they could do the same as the courts do as well and give them X amount of hours community service. I do know that a lot of players and ex players do an enormous amount of work for charities that does not get written about as well.

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  • 70. At 2:34pm on 09 Mar 2010, marcus Ward wrote:

    Really interesting post chris. I have an older brother with downs syndrome who used to be a part of Chelsea's disability football scheme which was really beneficial for him, until the plug was pulled when mr abramovich walked in to takeover chelsea. not saying theres any connection there....

    In any case, its great to see other teams supporting this initiative. i can only hope my beloved arsenal will follow suit!

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  • 71. At 3:56pm on 09 Mar 2010, BanthaFodder wrote:

    Great blog Chris.
    Although I should point out it is Down Syndrome and not Down's Syndrome. ;-)

    My son is 2 and has DS so he might well end up playing against Lois if Arsenal put a team together. I have contacted them via the Arsenal Online Supporters Centre to see if they have any plans for a team.

    Sadly though we don't live in London but he does attend the group patroned by Lee so there might be a local team soon. As long as he can still wear his Arsenal kit.

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  • 72. At 4:17pm on 09 Mar 2010, Tom wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    I've just received this response from Derby County with regards to the possibility of setting up a similar scheme there, and I thought you might be interested.

    -----

    Hi Tom,

    Firstly I would like to thank you for your informative email that you sent to the club with regards to the QPR Tigers Club (Down Syndrome Football Team). I have been fortunate to read the article myself as it was sent through my network of contacts. I completely agree with your comments that the QPR initiative is “supremely worthwhile” and it is something which I am looking into in terms of the possibility of establishing a similar club in Derby.

    My role within the club’s community department is to develop and deliver our disability initiative, which I have been doing so for nearly three years now. We have established numerous disability football sessions across the county, working in partnership with Derbyshire County FA, local Charter Standard football clubs and other key partners such as local authorities. We have been successful in running initiatives for Deaf footballers, Blind and Visually Impaired players and more recently, established a county wide mental health football program, named the Winning Mentality Initiative.

    I can assure you that at Derby County in the Community, we strive to be at the forefront of community initiatives to ensure we become “More Than A Club”. Emails such as the one from yourself, are vital in our attempts to become a leading community department and a shining light amongst our local population and I would like to think that the work we have achieved already is a “fundamental part of the ethos and the public perception of the club”.

    Thank you once again and I can assure you that this is an initiative which is in hand. Watch this space!

    -----

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  • 73. At 5:18pm on 09 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    67. Mick Shackleton: Great work, Mick - two very worthy causes there. Is Ian's community programme specific to Down's syndrome or does it cover a variety of disabilities? Fingers crossed for Dan's debut - he'll make you the proudest dad in Bradford.

    68/69. Nick_Hove_Actually: Like everyone else who's been inspired to email their clubs, I salute you. You're right, so many clubs do such wonderful work in the community that goes unreported and it is definitely something I will look into.

    71. BanthaFodder: A few people have emailed Arsenal now, so hopefully someone will post their response at some point. Whereabouts do you live? If Arsenal don't have their own team in the next few years, looks like your son and Lois could be team-mates! Re the Down's/Down 'debate' - I took my cue from the guidelines sent out by the DSA on their terminology factsheet, so not sure of the answer to that one.

    72.moley_15: Wow, that's brilliant! Well done on writing to Derby in the first place and well done them on sending such a prompt and informative response. It looks like they already do a lot in the community, but as I said earlier, if this blog leads to one club setting up a team for children with Down's syndrome then I will be really chuffed.

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  • 74. At 5:20pm on 09 Mar 2010, Superhoopranger wrote:

    1st time poster but felt compelled to do so. Really moving article. Great opportunity for the for the kids and an example of the club's contribution to the community - much needed after some of the recent publicity. But this isn't about the club it's about a good news story - something really worthwhile, made all the more powerful as it comes from a such a personal perspective.
    I've not seen this on the official club website (unless I've missed it) and it would be great to do so as it would not only bring the Tiger Cubs to more people's attention but also provide a wider opportunity for donations for your walk. Did you find out if others can join you on 10th? If so could you post the details?

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  • 75. At 11:26pm on 09 Mar 2010, jambobroch wrote:

    great. its what football is all about.

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  • 76. At 07:21am on 10 Mar 2010, Bishwaksen Bandyopadhyay wrote:

    the best blog i have read on this site, all the best to you Chris and to all the fellow posters/commentators

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  • 77. At 07:50am on 10 Mar 2010, Megan wrote:

    Chris, I was thinking about this further in the pub last night. If our efforts to persuade our local clubs to join in pay off (haven't heard from the Alex yet, but am going to try Stoke as well) this could go nationwide. Would you folks like a website dedicated to Down footie? This is my trade (cannot play football for toffee!) and I'd be glad to donate space on my server and build a site. I'm also good at admin, maybe a 'league' for those who are ready to get competitive.

    I don't think I'm allowed to post my e-mail on here, can you get access to my login details, I've given both e-mail & telephone there?

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  • 78. At 2:01pm on 10 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    74. Superhoopranger: Yes, nice to write something positive about QPR for a change, although after two wins on the bounce, things are looking up! I spoke to the people at QPR and they are looking to get the article on the official website. I will also be writing a piece in the programme for the Swansea game and the video will be shown on the big screen at half-time. Re the walk, don't think we can swell the group any further unfortunately, but will let you know if this changes.

    76. Bishwaksen: Thanks very much - really means a lot to know people have enjoyed reading the piece.

    77. Ah the pub - a great place to ruminate! Yes, I can get your details and it sounds like a good idea, although not sure whether my bosses would go for it. You should definitely email your idea to patricia.james@downs-syndrome.org.uk

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  • 79. At 4:21pm on 10 Mar 2010, Megan wrote:

    Thanks, Chris... I'll talk to her. Feel free to get in touch at your convenience.

    As for the pub, I'd just gone out to fetch husband (who travels to Stoke on the train for work) and ended up having a steak dinner bought for me! Good reward for giving him a lift :)

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  • 80. At 8:34pm on 10 Mar 2010, Superhoopranger wrote:

    Thanks for the update. Shame more can't join you but good luck (and a wish for good weather) on the day. Hopefully all the Rs going to the game can give you a rousing reception.

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  • 81. At 10:49am on 11 Mar 2010, Megan wrote:

    Update: I talked to Patricia James at the Downs Syndrome Association and she thinks a dedicated website would be beneficial... we'll be meeting up to take this further. SHe's also given me further ammunition to go to local clubs with, in attempt to entice them into the fold!

    So, profund thanks, Chris, for bringing this to my attention - I knew nothing of it until I read your blog.

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  • 82. At 9:55pm on 11 Mar 2010, blogdignag wrote:

    yous is a top geezer chris and this is a top blog.

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  • 83. At 12:37pm on 12 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    79/81. Megan: That's brilliant news - let me know how you get on. I'll send you an email with my details on. Mmmm - steak dinner, you're making me feel hungry! Incidentally, got sent this email from the DSA in response to the blog: "We are starting to receive e mails from coaches and organisations from all over the place regarding the website piece you posted on BBC. A coach from Nottingham wants to set the scheme up at his club, and the same with a guy in California!" Great news indeed.

    82. blogdignag: Cheers - you're not so bad yourself!

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  • 84. At 09:50am on 13 Mar 2010, Mark S wrote:

    Hi Chris, loved the blog. I saw the kids at the half time shoot out at the QPR game and i will admit i shed a few tears seeing how much they enjoyed their day. They definately enjoyed milking the applause as they did their lap of honour (Quite rightly too). When are we going to see them again??
    I am looking at doing a 10k race in October and cant think of a better cause for sponsership than the cubs. If possible could you contact me by e mail and we could discuss me getting some literature about the cubs so i can collect as much money as possible.
    Lets hope some more clubs around the country take on the mantle (and a round of applause to those who already are doing so).
    Thanks again for the wonderful blog, i loved reading it.

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  • 85. At 11:41am on 15 Mar 2010, Bernie Regan wrote:

    Chris

    Echoing many of the sentiments already express, thanks for this great piece of writing.

    For what its worth I've sent my beloved Preston North End, a link to the blog, and enquired about what scope there might be for something similar in our neck of the woods. I'll let you know of any response....

    Best wishes

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  • 86. At 11:49am on 18 Mar 2010, Chris Charles wrote:

    84. Mark S: Fantastic news. I'll get your details and drop you a line.

    85. Bernie Regan: To reiterate what I said in earlier comments, I am touched by the amount of people who have got on to their local clubs as a result of reading this article. I really never expected such a fantastic response and everyone deserves a large pat on the back.

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  • 87. At 2:58pm on 08 Apr 2010, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:



    “As for Lois, she turns two on 9 April”. Wishing Lois a Very Happy Birthday.

    Mr. Charles has written a very touching blog that portrays the joy and enthusiasm of the young footballers, care of their loving parents, concern of many supportive friends and solidarity of a vast legion of well wishers and football coaches as they try together to celebrate the gift of life through the game of football.

    Disability Sports and Disability Football are meaningful platforms for remaking and reshaping of lives. Jogo Bonito in its purest form is an exercise in courage, hope and joy with the ball doing the rest. This Tiger Cubs HQ is a fantastic initiative. QPR, Fulham, Charlton, Manchester United, Hereford and West Ham are doing a noble service to the young football players in their neighbourhoods. Possibilities to enjoy and show case one’s talents in front of an admiring audience adds to the cherishing of the gift of life.

    Enjoyed reading and am very much touched by the lovely responses from the esteemed readers of this blog. This real life stuff evokes deep and authentic feelings of concern, fellow feeling, admiration and increases the stamina levels of all to journey forward facing and overcoming life’s hurdles with determination, courage and a genuine smile.

    Like many others I too will be eagerly waiting for the great day to cheer Lois making her debut for Tiger Cubs HQ and smashing a grand hat trick on her very first appearance in her team colours. Thanks for the unique blog and the nice video. Best wishes and have a nice day.


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  • 88. At 8:49pm on 09 Apr 2010, TerryFBH wrote:

    Chris - :)

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  • 89. At 3:39pm on 06 May 2010, Christopher Gill wrote:

    Superb blog Chris, i hope she scores for the team as well, now that REALLY would make you shine inside :)

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  • 90. At 1:00pm on 11 May 2010, Dinesh Vijayan wrote:

    Hello Chris and everyone who has posted,

    Firstly apologies for such a belated response, and I hope there are still people following the progress of this article. Secondly Chris that was an absolutely heartwarming article and the response that you received from the public speaks volumes, it is something that very close to the people's hearts and I'm glad that we can share the really beautiful side of the beautiful game.

    My name is Dinesh Vjayan, the Disability Football Officer at Arsenal Football Club. I just want to let you guys know of the current activities that we run within this bracket; I run sessions in schools for severely autistic children; children with multiple/severe learning disorders; I also run fortnightly sessions on Sundays at the Sobell Leisure centre for children who have Visually impairments and children who are deaf/hard of hearing. We also, as a clun, run sessions for adults (and young adults) with learning difficulties and adults with mental health issues.

    At Bridge school in Islington (a school for dhildren with special needs), where i run football sessions every wednesday, I work with four children with Down Syndrome. In addition to this Down syndrome football is the session that I get consistently asked about the most - so as a coach I am well aware of the demand and the positive effect that it could have, as the children I mentioned thoroughly enjoy football and the social and health aspects that they will gain are priceles.

    What I mentioned to people that emailed me is that the most important thing at the moment is that all the current projects running all around the country are supported well and well publicised it is only with this success that we can build on to create new projects.

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  • 91. At 1:16pm on 11 May 2010, Dinesh Vijayan wrote:

    There are a lot of potential projects in the offing at Arsenal so watch this space, as a small example of the work we have already done you can look to here:

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/treehouse-gallery

    On a personal and non-professional note, watching the video above about the Tiger Cubs was very emotional and seeing the sheer unasulterated joy and happiness on the faces of the kids was absolutely out of this world, it bought loads of tears to my eyes!!! So I would like to Big-up all the coaches and parents involved in creating this and also Chris (I sincerely hope that your little girl dons an R's top for you mate!). And also reading also the stories and testimonials of the readers was also brilliant - it all has left an indelible mark on me and given me a big target to strive towards.

    Finally to end my ramblings, If anybody has anything to talk about, propose, discuss, any contacts to do with disability football and most importantly if you can promote any of our ongoing sessions[Personal details removed by Moderator]......This incudes anybody who simply want to observe the sessions (including coaches of other clubs and very importantly that includes you too Chris)

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  • 92. At 1:18pm on 11 May 2010, Dinesh Vijayan wrote:

    *dvijayan@arsenal.co.uk (hoping no-one from the club notice that mistake hehe :D)

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