Coronavirus: Footballers help girl, 10, to 1.7m keepy-uppies

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image copyrightKarl Heidel
image captionImogen Papworth-Heidel has pledged one keepy-uppy for each one of the UK's key workers

Thousands of people have been helping a football-mad 10-year-old reach her target of 7.1 million "keepy-uppies" in aid of charity.

Imogen Papworth-Heidel wants one keepy-uppy for each of the UK's key workers.

Realising she could not achieve her target alone, the Cambridgeshire schoolgirl last month asked others to help.

Footballers, including Lioness Lucy Bronze, have helped bring the total to 1.7 million and raise more than £7,000.

About 2,000 sports clubs, school groups and individuals have "donated" about 1.5 million keepy-uppies and Imogen has done more than 185,000 of her own since starting the challenge about five weeks ago.

Imogen, from Hauxton, was inspired to do something to raise funds for charities supporting key workers after seeing Captain Tom Moore, the Bedfordshire centenarian, walking laps of his garden for the NHS.

image copyrightKarl Heidel
image captionImogen has managed up to 8,000 keepy-uppies a day during half-term

The footballer, who trains with Cambridge United's youth development academy, thought she could keep her ball up in the air about 200 times each day.

But when her parents told her it would take 97 years to reach the magic number of 7.1 million, she called on others to donate their own keepy-uppies.

"We told her otherwise she would be older than Captain Tom by the time she completed the challenge," her dad Karl said.

image captionFootballer Lucy Bronze, one of Imogen's "idols", has contributed her own keepy-uppies

Imogen does as many as she can in a row without dropping the ball, adding them all up to reach her daily total.

She is now achieving between 5,000 and 8,000 keepy-uppies herself each day and donations have poured in from across the globe.

"We've had some from a football team in California and support from Australia and South Africa, but most are from clubs and children across the UK," her mum Sarah said.

image copyright@imogen_ph
image captionImogen's keepy-uppy stats as of Friday 29 May

Some of the more well-known faces to offer support were football pundit Alex Scott and England women's footballer Lucy Bronze, who earlier this month got in touch with Imogen and then donated 500 of her own keepy-uppies.

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Imogen said she was "blown away" by the support for her efforts to help key workers, whom she calls "Covid heroes".

"People are sending me tens of thousands of keepy-uppies every day, which is absolutely incredible.

"I thought I'd be doing most of them myself and that I was going to be doing it for years and years."

image copyrightKarl Heidel
image captionPeople are donating their own keepy-uppies as well as money to charities

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