The Newcastle children’s football manager takes on dads in the game but it’s all for a good cause

A children’s football coach admits he may have lost his young players’ respect after they suffered a spectacular loss to their dads – but says it was worth raising much-needed money for a good cause.

On Sunday, parents of players at Westgate Juniors FC donned black and white shirts to take on a team of coaches from the club. With a game price of £10 a head and cake, raffle tickets and ice cream sold to spectators, the game raised £970 to support the Childhood Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

The game was organized after U14 coach Michael Richardson visited the hospital and stopped to help a woman who was struggling to get a large number of bags in. When he asked where she was taking them, he discovered they were full of Easter eggs intended for the young people who were spending the holidays in the cancer ward.

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Michael, 38, said, “As soon as I got on the ward, all I asked was ‘What can I do to help?’ And from there it only started. When I talked to the club about it, they said we could do a parents vs coaches match, everyone did.

“When you walk into this station, it’s just so difficult that you don’t really think about it until you see it, and then you’re just like, ‘How can I help?’ because you can’t help it.

“Some of the people I spoke to today have spoken about how they have been affected by cancer or lost someone and I had never heard those stories before. It seems to touch everyone when you think about it.”



Westgate Juniors Coaches (Blue) vs Parents (Black and White)
Westgate Juniors Coaches (Blue) vs Parents (Black and White)

The game enjoyed a “great” atmosphere, Michael said, with lots of laughter from all sides. But after a tight first half that ended 3-3, the parent team ran away and eventually defeated the coaches 7-3.

“I think it’s the first time the parents are beating the coaches so they can brag for another year. We said we should make this a regular thing, do it every year for a good cause,” he said.

“My son Michael is on my team and he’s definitely been wondering why I missed a shot and things like that – the kind of questions I would normally ask him after a game.”

When asked if he thought he could win back the respect of his players after losing to their fathers, Michael had to be honest.

“Definitely not – I’ve got it now!” he laughed. But he said it’s more than worth helping the important cause.

Find out more about how you can support the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation: https://charity.newcastle-hospitals.nhs.uk/great-north-childrens-hospital/

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