INSPIRATIONAL young footballers took on the mammoth challenge to run 13 half marathons to raise money for an NHS charity.

Boys from the Kennington Athletic Under-10s team set themselves the strenuous challenge after hearing about all the hard work of healthcare workers in battling the coronavirus crisis.

Their coach Gary Van-Gucci and Katie Down, a parent of one of the teammates, came up with the idea for the fundraiser to motivate the children to stay active during the government-enforced lockdown and to help NHS Charities Together.

Initially, the challenge consisted of the boys completing 50km between them, however, Mr Van-Gucci said they 'absolutely smashed it in the very first weekend'.

To keep their spirits up he decided to extend it to 13 half marathons – one for each player.

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The coach said the keen runners were faced with the enormous distance of 272km, which they completed in under three weeks according to their coach.

With almost 30 supporters, the footballers raised the impressive £590 pounds – £90 more than their original target.

Mr Van-Gucci praised everyone who sponsored them through the Just Giving fundraiser he set up.

He said: "I am so proud of the boys and what they have achieved already.

"This challenge is keeping them active whilst raising money for an amazing cause."

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Before the start of the pandemic the children trained once a week in the evening and had two games during the weekend, however with hard social-distancing restrictions in place they have not met up since March.

Ms Down, whose son Teddy just turned ten, explained that the challenge has motivated the young footballers to 'get off the sofa and out in the fresh air'.

The parent, who also ran the London Marathon last year and encouraged her son to follow in her footsteps, said: "It is so easy for children to get stuck in front of the TV and on their game consoles.

"So, it is important that they are set goals to keep them motivated.

"All of the boys were very excited to 'train together but apart' and were even getting competitive with each other who will complete their half marathon the quickest."

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Ms Down added that she works as a hairdresser and most of her clients are healthcare workers, so she has heard first hand of how 'overwhelmed and stressed' they all are.

She said: "We were all adamant that we were going to fundraise for the NHS, there was no debate about the cause."

Many Abingdon locals donated

Ms Down did not rule out that her and Mr Van-Gucci will come up with a fresh challenge for the young footballers as they 'really loved' running for the NHS.

The parent also added that Mr Van-Gucci is currently in talks with Kennington Athletic on how training sessions could resume safely once the children go back to school on June 1.

To support the Kennington Athletic U10’s Football Team to raise money for NHS Charities Together visit