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Imogen, 12, nominated for Fifa award after 7.1m keepy-uppies challenge

The schoolgirl completed more than 1.1 million keepy-uppies herself, with the rest donated by others.

Imogen Papworth-Heidel
Imogen Papworth-Heidel

A 12-year-old footballer who took on a charity challenge to reach 7.1 million keepy-uppies – one for every UK key worker – has been nominated for a Fifa award.

Imogen Papworth-Heidel, from Hauxton, near Cambridge, completed more than 1.1 million keepy-uppies herself, with the rest donated by people who joined in with her challenge last year.

More than £22,000 was raised for charity, including Gift Aid, with England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford and Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp among those who took part.

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford (Francesco Scaccianoce/PA)

Now Imogen has been nominated for the Best Fifa Fan Award.

The award, launched by the international football federation in 2016, aims to “spotlight an outstanding moment or gesture by any fan or fan group regardless of league level, gender or nationality”.

Imogen is one of three nominations this year.

The other two are German football fans who rallied to help the victims of devastating floods, and Denmark and Finland fans who banded together in an emotional tribute while awaiting news about Christian Eriksen.

After the Danish midfielder collapsed during a Euro 2020 game, Finnish fans chanted “Christian!” and Danish supporters responded with “Eriksen”.

Imogen said she was “shocked” when she heard she had been nominated.

“I came home from school and my mum told me that I was one of the three nominations for Best Fifa Fan,” she said.

“It’s such an honour to be representing the UK and to be representing the footballing community who all came together during such a difficult time in the pandemic, and I want to thank them for raising money for our 7.1 million keepy-uppy challenge and the 7.1 million amazing key workers.

“Just to be nominated is incredible but it would really be mind-blowing to win.

“It would be so wonderful to collect the award on behalf of the thousands and thousands of people across Britain and the world who took part in the challenge.”

Keepy-uppies
Imogen Papworth-Heidel (Joe Giddens/PA)

Arsenal fan Imogen, who took up football at the age of six, reached more than 7,000 keepy-uppies per day during the challenge.

She said she was inspired to take it on after seeing the efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who completed 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday to raise money for the NHS.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated the 7.1 million key workers figure, with around 22% of working-age people in the UK employed in such occupations.

Imogen’s challenge raised money for the NHS, Mind, The Fire Fighters Charity, Police Care UK, The Care Workers Charity, SSAFA – The Armed Forces Charity, Education Support, East Anglian Air Ambulance, and Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust.

The Best Fifa Fan Award is decided by votes from supporters, with the winner to be announced at a ceremony in Zurich on January 17.

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