Just because you’ve got diabetes, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a wide range of sports.
This was the message given to nearly two hundred youngsters from across the UK during August, who attended Soccer Skills Days at the Liverpool FC Academy (8th August) and West Ham United’s Boleyn Ground (27th August).
The Around U Sports Soccer Skills Days , run in association with the Liverpool FC Academy and West Ham United and sponsored by Bayer Diabetes Care and Diabetes.co.uk, included soccer skills training from each Club’s Academy coaching staff, plus a talk from the UK’s number one freeride snowboarder, Chris Southwell , who also has diabetes, on how this life-long condition shouldn’t prevent children leading full and active lives.
This was the second year running the event was held at West Ham’s Boleyn Ground, receiving the seal of approval from first team manager, Gianfranco Zola and assistant coach, Steve Clarke, who were firmly behind the decision to give the youngsters a once in a lifetime opportunity to play on the pitch.
“Football creates a real passion in children which can help nurture team working, confidence building a most of all, gives them a great day out, full of fun,” says Gianfranco Zola.
“We are more than happy to support events like this, which goes to show that having diabetes doesn’t have to stand in the way of your dreams.”
Professors Neil Hanley and Rayaz Malik from the University of Manchester, and Dr Tim Tree, from King’s College London, all representing Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), spoke to parents and guardians at both events, about the charity’s research programmen, including specific projects such as the artificial pancreas, plus more general information on how JDRF funds its research.
The event was organised by Bayer Diabetes Care and Diabetes.co.uk to promote Bayer’s Around U programme which was launched in July 2008 to support children and young people living with diabetes.
Designed to present useful information in a fun and exciting way, Around U provides online information as well as access to free of charge support materials through the website, www.bayerdiabetes.co.uk/aroundu
Good control, on and off the pitch, was the theme of both days. For people living with diabetes, it is essential they keep control of their blood glucose levels to ensure they remain healthy. On the pitches, coaches from Liverpool FC Academy and West Ham’s Academy, under the guidance of Phil MacDiarmid from Liverpool, and Tony Carr from West Ham, helped the children keep a football under control while their parents learnt how they can support their child, with regular monitoring.
Tony Carr, West Ham
Tony Carr, West Ham Youth Academy director, who was himself diagnosed with diabetes in 2005, comments: “It’s always a pleasure to host children who have a real passion for the game and from what I saw today, some of the players demonstrated excellent ball skills. I was very impressed with how every one of today’s players handled their condition, on and off the pitch. It was a pleasure to be involved again.”
Rachel Owe, Bayer Diabetes Care, added: “We provide a wide range of meters and support materials to help children, and adults, manage their diabetes. An estimated 25,000 children under the age of 18 in the UK have diabetes , so it is vital we have a network available to help young people, their parents and adults, with materials, advice and events where they can feel supported. Around U aims to do just this and we feel very proud that so many young people have enjoyed today’s soccer skills day at the Academy.”
David Holyoak, commercial director, Diabetes.co.uk, comments: “Diabetes.co.uk provides fast access to reliable diabetes information and latest web technologies including ‘myLifestyle’ online to help adults and children manage their diabetes more easily and freely.
We are delighted that the children and their parents have enjoyed the Around U Soccer Skills Days at Liverpool and West Ham and are glad to play our part in helping to make this happy occasion possible for so many children.”
All the young people attending the Around U events at Liverpool FC Academy and West Ham were able to purchase Bayer Diabetes Care’s new Didget meter, the first and only blood glucose monitoring system which connects directly to Nintendo DS and DS Lite gaming sytems.
It helps children manage their diabetes by rewarding them for consistent testing habits. More information on Didget can be found via www.bayerdidget.co.uk