THE Albion Foundation has said a massive thank you to supporters who attended yesterday’s game against Liverpool for making its big day memorable.
The 1-1 draw against the Reds – designated ‘Albion Foundation Day’ – brought to an end a week of hard graft in which the club’s charitable arm has been raising funds for, and awareness of, its community-based work.
Ahead of the forthcoming match shirt auction, supporters have already helped Foundation staff raise £9,000 towards their £15,000 target.
The main focus of the week has been on the Foundation’s disability work and provision.
And there was a rapturous welcome from both home and away supporters for the ‘Walk The Albion Way’ team as they completed a lap of honour at half-time.
Five of the Foundation’s blind footballers - Simon Hill, Darren Harris, Ian McNamara, Shammi Ral and Ibraheem Iqbal – began on foot a gruelling 86-mile trek from Anfield on Tuesday.
Guided by disability team members Adam Crowle, Paul Glover, Ajay Gill, Andy Turnbull and Paul Hunt, who completed the challenge in his wheelchair, they arrived in the Black Country in time for yesterday’s game.
Before kick-off, Pepe Mel’s players warmed up wearing Albion Foundation-branded t-shirts, which were then thrown to fans in the crowd.
The team also wore specially-designed match shirts against the Merseysiders featuring the embroidered message: WBA v LIVERPOOL, 02.02.14, THE ALBION FOUNDATION DAY. Each squad member has signed their own shirt, which will be auctioned off in aid of the Foundation this week. Stay tuned to www.wba.co.uk for further details.
Rob Lake, director of The Albion Foundation, claimed Victor Anichebe’s equaliser, which earned the Baggies a vital point, capped a great day for the charity.
“We're absolutely delighted with how much we've managed to raise so far and are very hopeful we can reach our target,” said Lake, who also completed ’Walk The Albion Way’.
"The supporters have got right behind us and given generously and yesterday was a fitting end to an amazing week.
“The reception we got from both sets of fans was incredible. It was a very special moment that will stay with the guys a long time.
“It has been an honour and privilege to be with them this week. Their positivity, determination and zest for life is awe-inspiring.
“They have all dug deep but I have to give a special mention to Ibraheem, who is just 15 years old and only lost his sight a couple of years ago.
“After day one he was really struggling and at lunch on day two all of the blind guys were feeling it.
“But Ibraheem got out of the bus and led the way. He inspired us all with his sheer determination and guts.
“I cannot speak highly enough of the disability team whose care, dedication and professionalism was unbelievable. I would also like to say a massive thank you to our business development manager, Jon Ross, who came up with the challenge idea and has worked tirelessly to make it happen.
“This challenge would not have been possible without the backing of our sponsors, so a massive thank you goes to Hollywood Monster, University of Wolverhampton, Hotel Shop UK, Primark, South & City College, Birmingham, and Free Radio.”
Foundation staff gave away wristbands to supporters who donated yesterday and there are two season tickets on offer to the fan who sends in the most unusual picture featuring a wristband. To enter, send your photos to The Albion Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The competition will run until the end of the season.
Raffle tickets were also sold in the corporate areas, with a VIP day with the players at the training ground being won by a customer in the East Stand’s Richardson Suite.
At half-time, a video featuring Foundation powerchair footballer Daniel Kay was played on the big screens. To watch the video, in which Daniel gets a surprise visit from Albion players, click here
Anyone who did not donate yesterday can still do so in the following ways: text WTAW14 to 70070 to donate £5, or visit: www.justgiving.com/albionfoundation
The Foundation was founded in 1992 and uses the medium of football and the kudos of West Bromwich Albion Football Club to raise aspirations among local people of all ages and abilities.
Each week, Foundation staff deliver over 650 hours of provision and work to more than 8,200 participants as they seek to meet sporting, recreational, health and educational needs in Sandwell, Dudley and surrounding areas.