Support packages will be available for another fortnight after Velocity students smash marathon challenge

Girls studying Velocity Football’s BTEC programme swapped the training ground for the open road on Wednesday, February 10, by completing a marathon each in aid of support packages for families that require help during lockdown.

Velocity coaches Lauren Haynes, Aliyah Anthony and General Manager Hannah Bladen joined students Billie Bough-French, Chelsea Cox, Bailee Latimer, Cara Kerby, Phoebe Coles, Chloe Jacobsen, Tia Herbert, Emily Chappelle, Adele Davis, Ellie Stevens, Lucie Fisher, Olivia Day and Georgia Street in completing their own marathons remotely via running app Strava.

Remarkably, all students and coaches completed their own 26.2 mile routes before 5pm.

The challenge was organised to raise funds for support packages that are being produced and distributed by Ignite Sport UK, Oxford City Football Club, FitFest Oxford and The Oxford Food Company.

Initially, it was hoped fundraising would help the four companies provide support packages to families in need for a six-week period by raising £3,000. But between the launch and completion of Wednesday’s marathon challenge, the grand total has exploded to £3,700 – meaning packages can be distributed for another fortnight.

To date, support packages have helped more than 240 families across Oxford by supplying food, toiletries and sports equipment via three Oxford primary schools and their associated pre-schools.

Justin Merritt, Director of Velocity Football and Ignite Sport UK, said he was proud of students’ efforts and their proactive approach to learning and training while they are restricted to learning from home.

He added: “Our students and their families should be extremely proud of the efforts they have gone to throughout lockdown to help support those in need during the pandemic.

“For everyone to complete a marathon in a day – coaches included – is an extraordinary effort and testament to the strong learning relationships our classes have established this year despite the challenges of COVID-19.

“Thanks to the girls’ efforts, we have not only been able to extend our distribution period, but we have also purchased more sports equipment to encourage families in need to get outdoors and active during half-term week. A massive well done to everyone involved.”

The marathon challenge was inspired following the completion of Red January – an annual fundraising initiative that encourages people to support a chosen charity each January by doing something active for each of the 31 days in the month.

This year, Red January supported the work of Sport in Mind – a charity that improves the lives of people experiencing mental health problems via sport and physical activity – and Velocity students collectively raised over £1,000.

Lauren Haynes, head coach of Velocity Football’s female programme, said: “We are so lucky to have such a fantastic group of community-minded students this year.

“Initially, we thought the idea of each running a marathon was perhaps on the ambitious side. But everyone dug in to complete 26.2 miles and throughout the day we supported each other with catch ups via Zoom to see how everyone was getting on.

“I’m delighted the girls’ efforts have ensured food and essential item packages can continue to help families in need across Oxford during lockdown and want to congratulate the girls for their outstanding efforts.”

Velocity Football’s BTEC, Higher National Certificate (HNC), and Higher National Diploma (HND) courses provide 16- to 23-year-olds with the education, experience and opportunities to follow a career in sport and are delivered via Virtual Learning UK.

On Thursday, March 4, Justin Merritt and Lauren Haynes will co-host a virtual open event via Zoom for prospective students and their parents or carers to learn more about the revamped full-time educational academy that is based at Oxford City FC.

For further information about Velocity Football and to sign up to the next virtual open event, visit: www.velocityfootball.co.uk

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