FOOTBALL fans got a chance to meet former FA Cup stars and see the trophy itself at the launch of the national Beko Keepy-Uppy Challenge yesterday.
Former AFC Bournemouth players Darren Anderton and Steve Fletcher met students from Bournemouth School at the Sir David English Sports Centre in the morning, where the youngsters practised keepy-uppies with world record holder Dan Magness.
Then in the afternoon, the pair were joined by former Liverpool player John Barnes at the Goldsands Stadium to get local fans involved, ahead of the Cherries’ FA Cup showdown with the Reds on Saturday.
“My children go to Bournemouth School for Girls so this is a great place to come for the launch,” said Steve.
“It is great for the young lads to see the world champ here, and keepy-ups are very good for practising ball control. There is nothing better as a kid, when you can’t play a game in a street, than taking a ball into a garden and keeping a ball in the air.”
Anderton said: “This is a great part of the build-up to the game on Saturday, which will be a great opportunity for Bournemouth to get a scalp. Dan has been amazing to watch and it is a great way for kids to get into the game. The first touch is so important. Since we retired we have been going into schools week in and week out and giving something back to the community, it is important to remember our fans aged six to 16 as they are the future.”
Among the students dazzled by Mr Magness’ brilliant ball skills was 13-year-old Finlay Wallace-Abbott, from Southbourne. He said: “I have seen people doing amazing keepy-ups online but it’s not the same as seeing it yourself. My brother saw the FA Cup when he was younger and never stops going on about it, so it’s nice to see it for myself.”
Mr Magness, 30, from Sheffield, won his title by keeping a ball off the ground for a whopping 26 hours, and he also holds the record for the longest distance travelled while doing keepy-uppy, managing 36 miles.
The Keepy-Uppy Challenge, run by FA Cup supporters Beko, is open for everyone to enter, whether as an individual, club, or school.
Prizes include FA Cup Final tickets and team training at The FA’s National Football Centre, St George’s Park. In addition, Beko will donate to its charity partner Barnardo’s for every entry received. To enter, competitors need to upload a short video clip, no longer than a minute, showcasing their skills to www.beko.co.uk/Pg/keepyuppy