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Football mad dad kicks off epic Euro Cup quest

11/2/2011
A father with a passion for football is preparing to embark on a unique challenge which will see him tackle some of the biggest names in European football history and raise much needed funds for two children’s charities.

Robin Blacklock, from East Lothian, and a team of friends aim to raise £100k by driving 7,000 miles in 14 days to visit the 21 football clubs which have won the European Cup/Champions League. In addition to visiting each club, Robin also plans to meet 21 ‘Medallion Men’ who were members of the winning teams.

The inspiration for this audacious challenge is Robin’s seven-year old son, Angus, who was born with a rare condition known as microtia, meaning he only has one ear. This and other medical problems have meant Angus has had to endure numerous examinations and operations, but has faced it all with a maturity which belies his years. Since Angus’ birth, both he and his family have received tremendous support from the Edinburgh Sick Kids Friends Foundation and facial disfigurement charity Changing Faces. The EuroChampsChallenge is his father’s way of repaying some of that care.

Robin and his team have been working around the clock to secure the support of ex-players and clubs and have to date succeeded in winning the backing of 16 of the 21 clubs including Barcelona, Nottingham Forest, Celtic, Manchester United, Liverpool, Hamburg, Ajax, Aston Villa, AC Milan, Real Madrid and Steaua Bucharest. The challenge now is to recruit the final six clubs and finalise the logistics of the two week trip which will see the team complete 500 miles per day.

The team will leave Celtic Park, Glasgow on Sunday 15 May 2011 and travel to the four other British clubs who succeeded in winning the tournament. They will then take in a further 14 countries as they visit the remaining 16 clubs before returning to the UK to celebrate the 56th Champions League final at Wembley on Saturday 28 May 2011.

Robin said: “In Angus’s seven years he’s had to undergo in excess of 15 operations yet he has continued to face every challenge with incredible courage and resilience, and it’s his bravery which inspired me to do something unique.

“Over the years, we’ve received so much support from Changing Faces and the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, and the EuroChampsChallenge is a way for my family and me to express our gratitude. I wanted to come up with a fundraising event which had never been attempted before and which had a football theme, and I think I’ve managed to achieve that.

“It’s a daunting task but we’ve already managed to land 16 of the 21 clubs and our focus in the coming weeks will be to sign-up Juventus, Marseilles, Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayern Munich. Every club we’ve approached has gone out of its way to help so I’m confident it’s only a matter of time before we secure the others.”

Robin has also received the support of Champions League sponsors Adidas and Sony, but to ensure they reach their target of £100k Robin is hoping to persuade more corporate backers to get involved.

Robin said: “The EuroChampsChallenge will undoubtedly be a great experience and I hope it demonstrates to Angus that with good people, hard work and the right attitude, you can achieve great things. That’s what made winners of these players and teams we’re going to visit, and is what I hope will allow my son to be whatever he wants to be in life.”

For further information on the EuroChampsChallenge or to donate, visit www.eurochampschallenge.com. And look out for the April issue of Gambling (in shops 10 March) for an article about this incredible charity adventure
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