Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the Aston Villa Foundation have joined together to offer a unique ‘Sports for All’ session for children and young people with brain and spinal tumours.
Young people aged between five and thirteen, who are battling cancer, took to the pitch to enjoy a two-hour session led by qualified coaches in the latest of the unique programme that harnesses the power of sport as part of their treatment and recovery.
The latest football course follows previous sports link-ups, including Boxercise and karate.
Amongst the ten superstars who took part was five-year-old Ben Williams, who you may remember shot to fame this summer during the World Cup when he received a special message from Golden Boot winner Harry Kane.
In September he proudly led the Three Lions out to the hallowed Wembley turf when they took on Spain and then joined his hero when he received his award for being the top scorer at the tournament.
Ben has been cared for by the expert Children’s Hospital team since April of this year after he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma – a type of brain tumour. He was admitted to the specialist neuro-surgery ward for two weeks before undergoing six weeks of radiotherapy and beginning courses of chemotherapy.
Ben, from Bournville, continues to make good progress and has now returned to join his classmates at St Francis Church of England Primary School.
Ben’s Dad, Sam Williams, said:
“We’re so thankful for all of the care and support we’ve received at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and this is a fantastic example of how staff go the extra mile.
“Ben had a great time joining in with the different activities. He’s a huge football fan, especially after this summer’s World Cup, and this was the perfect opportunity to practice his skills.”
The Sports for All sessions are organised by the Children’s Hospital Neuro-oncology team, which cares for around 50 newly diagnosed young people each year, are designed to offer an accessible route into sport for children who have various physical and cognitive impairments due to their conditions.
Senior Neuro-oncology Nurse Specialist, Sharon Beardsmore, said:
“We were thrilled to be joined by the Aston Villa Foundation to hold our latest Sports for All session.
“We know how beneficial exercise is for the rehabilitation of our young people who often have impairments as a result of their tumour and treatment. Families often don’t realise the positive effects sports can have on the mental and physical aspects of a child’s recovery.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to the Aston Villa Foundation for inspiring our youngsters to get involved with team sports and generously volunteering their time to run this dedicated event.”
Nigel Macrow, Disability Manager at the Aston Villa Foundation, said:
“It was a fantastic afternoon of football where all the players gave their all, not only in the football matches but also in the skills sessions.
“They showed off not only their footballing skills but their great personalities. It was an honour working with them and we are looking forward to the next session.”