Fa­ther aims to help ill kids to go to the match

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

LIKE MANY par­ents Ju­lian Ree­back looked for­ward to tak­ing his child to see his first foot­ball match.

How­ever, the chances of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing such a mo­ment af­ter his son Jake was born with se­vere re­s­pi­ra­tory prob­lems, and spent the 11 months of his life in hospi­tal, looked un­likely.

But af­ter nu­mer­ous op­er­a­tions Jake was deemed well enough to go home, and eight years on Mr Ree­back, a Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur sup­porter, was able to take him to watch Spurs play .

The ex­pe­ri­ence prompted Mr Ree­back to set up FootieWithDad.com — a web­site that chron­i­cles fa­ther-son ex­pe­ri­ences at­tend­ing foot­ball matches and aims to help chil­dren with de­bil­i­tat­ing ill­nesses or dis­abil­i­ties go to games

The 46-year-old es­tate agent said: “Dur­ing many hours, days and nights spent by Jake’s bed­side one thought kept me go­ing through the pain and strug­gle of it all.

“It was that one day we might watch a game at my beloved White Hart Lane, hold­ing him aloft as we cel­e­brated a win,”

“For­tu­nately, when he was eight he was well enough for me to do that and those dreams that I had all those years ago came true.”

Jake, now aged 12, has now made a full re­cov­ery from his ill­ness.

Mr Ree­back, who lives in Bushey, Ju­lian Ree­back with son Jake

Hert­ford­shir, has en­listed Dean Holdsworth, a for­mer Premier League player, to act as an am­bas­sador for the web­site.

For­mer Ever­ton play­ers Peter Reid and Gary Stevens have shared their mem­o­ries on the site.

Mr Ree­back has also teamed up with the Free Kicks Foun­da­tion to en­cour­age clubs to pro­vide free tick­ets to ill, be­reaved and un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren.

Wat­ford FC has do­nated two tick­ets for a dis­abled child and their par­ent to see a home game against Southamp­ton on Jan­uary 13.

Mr Ree­back said: “We want peo­ple to do­nate more tick­ets and more mem­o­ries. I’d re­ally like to hear from play­ers cur­rent and past.

“And any­one that wants to share their sto­ries about go­ing to foot­ball with their dad, or mum, or grand­par­ent.

“It doesn’t mat­ter who the fam­ily mem­ber is. It is a bond­ing ex­pe­ri­ence re­gard­less.”

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