FORMER Oxford United captain Les Robinson is set to take on the London Marathon tomorrow after swapping the football pitch for the classroom.
Fans’ favourite Robinson, who was at the club for more than 10 years and captained the side between 1995 and 2000, is now helping children with conditions such as attention deficit disorder and Asperger’s syndrome to play football.
Tomorrow the 45-year-old dad-of-two, now a PE teacher at a school that caters for children with complex learning needs, is putting on his trainers to run for Injury Minimization Programme for Schools (Imps), a charity which his pupils benefit from.
The aim of Imps is to reduce death and disability as a result of accidents and give children basic first aid skills. It teaches a programme developed by Prof Keith Willett, Professor of Trauma at the John Radcliffe Hospital, and his team.
Mr Robinson said: “When I left football I had no idea what I was going to do. I think how fortunate I was to be a footballer and then to land a job working with these kids and loving the achievement of getting them where they need to be and turning their lives around.”
After moving to Banbury, Mr Robinson was at first happy to enjoy his football retirement playing golf, but before long he was drawn into coaching children and then was snapped up by Swalcliffe Park School just outside the town.
He added: “I must say I never wanted to stay in the game but if I had it would have been working with kids.
“To fall into this and work with children and help them develop is great.”
Despite his career change Mr Robinson has lost none of his competitive drive.
He said: “When I came here the school team had never won a game and now we are winning week in, week out.
“I’ve kept my links with Oxford United and I’ve had a couple of kids who have gone down there to do work experience.”
Now inspired by his pupils, the former footballer is on a mission to help Imps raise the £45,000 needed to cover its operating costs.
After expressing an interest in running last year, the charity got in touch with Mr Robinson to hold him to his promise.
“I got a phone call out of the blue this year and that’s how I’ve ended up running the marathon. I don’t have a time I’m aiming for – I’ll just be happy when I’m at the finish.”