Shrewsbury's little Lionesses raise £21,000 for dad with cancer diagnosis

An under-12s girls' football team has won an award after raising £21,000 for a teammate's family facing a devastating diagnosis.

The U12 Meerkat’s girls’ football team, with coach, Merridy James
The U12 Meerkat’s girls’ football team, with coach, Merridy James

The U12 Meerkats girls' football team, from Shrewsbury, has been recognised for their inspirational efforts.

Nationwide Building Society awarded the team with a Mutual Respect Award after the young women raised over £21,000 for the family of a teammate whose father had been diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer.

Wanting to relieve the financial burden, and help the family enjoy their remaining time together, the young Jill Scotts banded together and raised 10 times their initial target of £2,000.

Each Saturday, after football practice, the girls undertook sponsored walks, bike rides, head shaves, raffles and even a marathon to raise money for the cause.

Meerkat coach Merridy James said: “We all felt very proud when we realised how much we had raised. Our team ethos is about creating a football family that is there to help each other and this is by far our biggest achievement.

"Of course, we can never truly take away what has happened to the family, but we hope they will be able to use the money to lessen their financial burdens, as well as give them the opportunity to enjoy the rest of their time together as a family.

"They have already been on a few lovely excursions together, which makes it all worthwhile.”

Merridy's daughter, Ava, 12, who plays on the team. She said: “Even when the things we were doing to raise money were difficult, we always reminded ourselves to think about who we were doing it for, which helped us to push on.

"Anyone can go through it. We wanted to make their lives as easy as possible.”

As a partner of The FA’s Respect Programme, Nationwide Building Society aims to thank those who have gone above and beyond to build mutual respect within grassroots football, making society more tolerant and inclusive.

Merridy added: “The girls have already had great praise from everyone involved with the Meerkats, such as parents and friends, but to get a bit of external validation and win Nationwide Building Society’s Mutual Respect Award for all the effort they’ve put in makes it all the more special."

The Meerkats hope to continue improving grassroots football by growing their community and have plans to do more social events every couple of months, taking the girls to see local football games and the Lionesses live, as well as a big event which they have coined ‘Meerfest’ in August.

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