Aspanion – Alicante, Spain
Friday 3 September by Jennifer Blackwood
A squad of 10 footsoldiers turned out for the cheque presentation to Aspanion at 1 pm on the day of the game. Three of us nearly didn’t make it thanks to a mad Valencian taxi driver. After a break-neck speed trip, we were dumped in the middle of wasteland of tower blocks, with a vague indication from the driver that the address we were looking for was somewhere in the middle.
For the next five minutes, I did my best ‘Anneka Rice’ impersonation and ran around the tower blocks whilst on the phone describing landmarks to Winky so that we’d track each other down.
We were met by Lisbet of the Aspanion charity and taken to a flat within the tower blocks where the charity had laid on a reception for us. A group of around 20 parents, children and representatives of the charity welcomed us with a selection of refreshments – certain footsoldiers weren’t too impressed with the low alcohol lager on offer! Obviously our reputation is well-known as our hosts felt compelled to explain they didn’t like to drink proper alcohol around the children.
Mazz presented the cheque whilst Winky delivered a speech in Spanish (I think he’d been practising!) to outline the reasons why the Sunshine Appeal had been established and its aims. He must have been pretty good as the Spanish seemed to understand him. The President of Aspanion, Jesus Gonzalex Marin then gave a speech to thank the Sunshine Appeal and express his gratitude that football fans felt driven to help in this way.
The children were clearly bemused by our appearance but made the most of the crisps, biscuits and juice on offer. Knowing what a serious illness these kids are facing, it’s a very humbling experience to see them getting on with life and just being kids – playing games and sneaking food when the adults weren’t looking. A few of them even had a small football game – which had a higher score line than the real thing later that day!
Then the cameras came out and we all posed for photograph after photograph taken by both the charity and the footsoldiers. All in all, a very pleasant way to spend match day and a chance to meet the locals (even if you can’t speak the language!)