Brave Bobby gets a game at National Lottery-supported club
Natasha Davies couldn’t hold back the tears when she was told her son, Bobby, was welcome to play football with the Rosehill Community Football Club.
The 6-year-old from Swansea is football mad and worships Cristiano Ronaldo in particular. Like many fans, he's hoping to see as much as possible of the Portuguese star, who is representing his country for record-equaling fifth World Cup in Qatar.
Sadly, Bobby’s hopes of playing for a local team have been stymied by his heart condition. He was born with Tricuspid Atresia, a congenital heart defect that stopped the right side of the heart developing properly and causes him to tire easily and suffer shortness of breath.
Bobby had open heart surgery for the second time last year and his parents noticed he had more energy as a result. They asked his cardiologist if it would be OK for him to join a football team and were given the go-ahead as long as he was careful.
Natasha began making enquiries at grassroots football clubs, but soon realised there was a problem. She said, “They just didn’t want him on their team. It’s quite competitive and they didn’t want someone who couldn’t play a full game or if there was an insurance issue. Every bit of red tape they could find they threw at us. It was so difficult. Bobby kept asking ‘have you found someone who wants me’?”
Natasha had almost given up trying to find a club for her son when she stumbled across National Lottery-funded Rosehill Community Football Club on Instagram. The club provides footballing opportunities for many children with complex needs and operates an open-door policy for new members.
It took just 10 minutes on the phone for Rosehill’s coach Stacey Bowles to make a decision: Bobby would be welcome at the club. Natasha said, “[Stacey] said ‘please bring him, we want him on our team. We want him to be part of the Rosehill family.”
There were more tears when Bobby, wearing a new Rosehill shirt bearing his name, ran onto the pitch for his first coaching session. He finally had what he wanted so badly: the chance to be part of a team and to have teammates.
Natasha said, “The day I saw him with his kit on running onto the field, with his friends clapping him, was so emotional. I think Stacey’s getting sick of my crying.”
At his second practice session Bobby was given a slice of homemade cake to celebrate another young player’s birthday. Natasha said, “he was a bit overwhelmed. He said ‘mummy, they gave me cake because I’m on the team!”
Bobby’s heart condition imposes certain restrictions on his footballing. He has to avoid being exposed to particularly cold or wet conditions and when he gets out of breath he stands on the touchline for a few minutes before rejoining the action.
He also wears a padded vest made by Stacey’s mother. It’s designed to protect his sternum which has been broken twice in his short life to allow doctors to perform open heart surgery.
Natasha said, “He’s absolutely loving being a member of the club. He had no skills to start with, bless him, but we’ve seen a big improvement. His dad promised him £5 if he scored a goal and he scored an own goal in his first match. It was still a goal though so he got the £5.”
29th November 2022
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