Together for England Roadshow travels north

Thursday 19 Feb 2015
Ben Gibson and Demi Stokes at the England Roadshow
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Middlesbrough was the destination for the February leg of the Together for England Roadshow.

England U21s international Ben Gibson joined Lioness Demi Stokes at Holmwood School in the Easterside area of the town to get involved in the Middlesbrough Sportability Club’s half-term camp.

The Boro defender and Manchester City Women’s new recruit had their archery, golf and table tennis skills put to the test alongside disabled youngsters aged between eight and 19.

“I was alright at the table tennis - but I wasn’t the best at the golf and archery,” admitted Gibson.

“But it’s been a fantastic day. It’s always great to get out in the community and join up Boro with the England Roadshow. It’s been a good chance to put a smile on people’s faces.”

Demi Stokes practices her archery

Demi Stokes practices her archery

He continued: “It’s been great to take part in, and especially with the kids. I was once one of these young boys aspiring to be a footballer, and whenever I got the chance to meet anyone who represented the football club it was an amazing day.

“Hopefully we can help these kids aspire to achieve their dreams like we have.”

England Women's international Stokes said: “I wasn’t too bad on the archery – but the kids beat me so I guess I wasn’t that good!

“It’s been fun just to hang out with them all, learn about them and find out what they get up to.

“It’s been really nice to give something back and see how close England is to the community,” she added.

“It has great to put a few smiles on the kids’ faces and I’ve really enjoyed it as well.”

Supported by the Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation and backed by The FA’s Disability Football Development Fund, Middlesbrough Sportability Club provides sport and leisure activities for young disabled people across the Tees Valley region every Saturday morning and during school holidays.

Formed in 2003, the club hosts over 80 members with a wide range of disabilities and aims to improve physical health and mental well-being while increasing participation regardless of ability.

After stepping outside their football comfort zone, the England trio handed out Three Lions goodie bags including tickets for the forthcoming U21s fixture against Germany at the nearby Riverside Stadium on Monday 30 March (7.45pm kick-off).

In addition, Gibson also presented volunteer football coach Adam Walsh with a pair of tickets for England senior team’s Euro qualifier with Lithuania at Wembley Stadium next month.

Gibson shows off his golfing skills

Gibson shows off his golfing skills

Tom Jones, disability coordinator for the centre, said: “Every Saturday Adam comes to coach our disability teams. We have two here and he’s been a great help. The kids love him and he comes in as a volunteer – which is fantastic and we felt he deserved the tickets.”

He added: “We have a lot of volunteers, but it comes out of his own time to do this and they have all responded well to him – so we think that he deserves it.

“He owes me now though, so he better give him the other ticket.”

Gibson will be hoping to play a part in that fixture for Gareth Southgate’s side ahead of this summer’s UEFA U21 Championship in the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, fresh from gaining her 11th cap during last Friday’s fixture against USA in Milton Keynes, Stokes is gearing up for the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in June.

Roy Hodgson’s seniors continue their UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying campaign when they host Lithuania at Wembley Stadium on Friday 27 March (7.45pm kick-off), while England U17s and U18s also have public fixtures on home soil throughout next month.

The Together for England Roadshow is a nationwide drive aimed at inspiring current and future Three Lions fans by strengthening the national side’s relationship with local communities. 

Following on from the release of the England DNA philosophy, the roadshows will look to encourage a consistent thread of national pride aimed at creating a better England, both on and off-the-field.

For further information on Middlesbrough Sportability Club and MFC Foundation, visit Middlesbroughsportabilityclub.webs.com and Mfcfoundation.co.uk.

For further details on all England sides, click here.


By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer in Middlesbrough