Young footballers are lacing up charity boots

Oxford Mail: Dale Harris, left, and Andrew Baker Buy this photo Dale Harris, left, and Andrew Baker

A RECORD number of young footballers will pull on their boots this Sunday to raise money for the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

Eighteen children’s teams have signed up for the sixth year of the Play2Give tournament at Oxford City’s Marsh Lane ground, which organisers hope will raise up to £10,000.

Andrew Baker, who founded the Play2Give fundraising organisation in 2007, said it was a great way to raise money for a good cause through a sport so many people love.

He said: “One of the teams from Didcot actually saw the poster advertising the event and went to their coach and asked to take part.

“Kids love football and they love helping other kids out, so this is the perfect way for them to have a bit of fun and raise money for people their own age who are being treated at the Oxford Children’s Hospital.”

Mr Baker has been supporting the hospital for more than 11 years after being treated throughout his childhood in hospitals across Oxford after he suffered a brain injury at birth.

He said: “I started fundraising when I was in school and when I finished sixth-form I set up Play2Give. It has just grown and grown since then.

“There are managers of some of the teams involved this year who have children who are being treated at the hospital, which highlights how important it is for us to keep supporting such a worthy cause.”

Mr Baker is supported by his friend Dale Harris, a father of four from Cowley who runs the Elmer Cotton Sports Shop in Turl Street. His daughter Mya, 11, was born with spina bifida and has had nearly 30 operations at the children’s hospital.

The event is sponsored by Breckon and Breckon estate agents, who will run a coconut shy, and there will be a raffle featuring a signed photo of the Arsenal squad.

It kicks off with the under-9s tournament at 9am and the under-10s will get underway at midday.

Play2Give has raised more than £25,000 for local charities since it was set up and of this more than £19,000 has gone to the hospital, which opened in 2007.

The hospital is also supported by the annual OX5 run, organised by the Oxford Mail, which this year saw a record-breaking £112,000 raised.

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