As The Free Kicks Foundation are our chosen charity for the Liquid Football Trophy 2017
, here is the interview we did with Steve for Liquid Football Mag Issue One…
What is the ethos behind The FreeKicks Foundation and what made you decide to set it up?
Our aim is to give deserving children, and sometimes adults, days out at football. These usually involve the child being mascot at their favourite club, but if that’s not possible we provide hospitality, so the recipients get a day out in a box or great seats with a meal. We want to give children who have been poorly, bereaved or that care for relatives something to look forward to, a break from their troubles. We not only do this at Posh but all around the country, giving local children chance to be mascot for their club when we go to away games. We have also kept in contact with many clubs from Posh’ time in the Championship and take nominations via our website and social media pages.
It was an idea in 20016 from one of our trustees, Leigh Porter, he asked me to get involved and it went from there. Sam came on board soon after and we have grown and grown since, giving at this current time 550 days out and many more have benefited from our season ticket schemes at clubs such as Posh, Villa, Cardiff, Palace and Newcastle.
What are some of the fundraising events that you’ve organised so far?
This year sees our 5th year of European cycle rides with trips to Amsterdam and Brussels, to follow two previous trips to Brussels and two to France, as well as a team who rode the first 2 days of 2014 Tour De France last year, so cycling has played a massive part in our fundraising over the years, raising over £60,000 between them. We have also visited all 92 English grounds in a car, all 38 Scottish ones as well, walks around all London grounds, to Nottingham from Peterborough and even climbed mountains and walked The Thames Path over three days. We hold an annual quiz night at Posh, which is always well attended and a fantastic evening. One of our most ambitious events was abseiling from the top of the Family Stand at London Road, which raised over £6,000.
…And what events do you have planned for this year?
We have two cycle rides being organised; a 4-day, 100 mile a day trip to Belgium through 6 counties and a much more gentle 2-day ride between the ABAX (London Road) and AJAX. Our quiz night is on February 26th and we will also have our annual 5 a side tournament and cricket match in the spring. We have one or two more things that we are working on but haven’t been finalised as yet.
Ambassadors for the charity include George Boyd, Ryan Bennett and Grant McCann. How important have they been in raising the profile of Free Kicks?They are brilliant for us, always willing to help in any way they can, as is our patron Darragh MacAnthony, whether it be by retweeting on Twitter, donating to us or joining in fundraisers.
How supportive are Premier League and Football League clubs for the charity?
The majority of Kicks we have to pay for. As we know football is a business these days and we are customers just as anybody else buying mascot packages etc would be. But there are some that help us out a bit more, giving us discounts, added extras and there have been some that have donated packages to us, such as Cardiff City, Manchester City and Middlesbrough. Obviously we have a fantastic relationship with Posh and nothing is ever too much trouble for them.
How would someone be able to nominate a participant for a future ‘kick’?
Participants can be nominated by contacting us through our website. If anybody knows someone who deserves a treat, we will do our utmost to organise it.
How can others get involved in fundraising for Free Kicks, or how can donations be made?
There’s a donation button on our website, or we are happy to provide bank details if people want to make regular donations. We are always looking for new ways of raising money or people to join in organised events. Best way to keep up to date is to watch our Twitter or Facebook pages.
You can help this cause by donating to the Free Kicks Foundation at: www.justgiving.com/freekicks
Or get in touch via: http://www.freekicksfoundation.org/contact