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Derby County supporters to visit the 92 football league grounds to raise awareness of Talipes and STEPS Charity.

In the summer of 2017, Derby County supporters Paul, Clair, Olivia and William Pounder started a tour of England’s 92 football league stadiums to help raise awareness of the condition Talipes, commonly known as Clubfoot, and to help raise funds for STEPS Charity.

In January 2017, William Pounder (8) underwent his second operation which included a tendon transfer tibialis anterior and a lengthening of his achilles tendon. Two years earlier William had the same operation on his right foot to deal with a relapse of his talipes. It was during the recovery for his first operation that the family noticed his left foot relapsing.

The Pounder’s have been regular visitors to the Queens Medical Centre where William’s treatment for his talipes started two weeks after he was born.

“We’ve known about Will’s condition since I had my 20 week scan.” Clair explains. “Since then he’s undergone a variety of treatment starting when he was just two weeks old. His treatment has included 12 weeks of casting, wearing special boots and bars until he was four years old and most recently his two tendon transfer operations on both feet.”

Paul adds “His most recent operation was much difficult as the operation took longer and it resulted in him having extremely painful muscle spasms for a few weeks after, which resulted in us returning to the hospital a number of times”. Ten months later and William is still recovering having undergone physio and wearing a special splint at night.

One thing that has been constant is the support from the charity STEPS. Clair says “STEPS have been brilliant with support and help from the day we found about his condition all the way through to telling us what to expect about the next stage of his treatment.”

Clair and Paul have now ‘stepped up’ and volunteered to be family advisors for STEPS. Offering advice and support to other parents who are undergoing similar experiences to what they’ve been through. Not only that, but over the past two years Paul has successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and run the London Marathon, raising over £3000 for the charity.

“The charity means so much to us and we know how key they are for other parents who are experiencing or about to experience what we’ve been through with William”, Clair continues.

In June, STEPS announced their partnership with Global Clubfoot Initiative, a community of organisations committed to improving access to the Ponseti method, for treating talipes, in Low and Middle Income Countries from a lowly 15% to 70% by 2030.

As part of the announcement, STEPS and the Global Clubfoot Initiative invited talipes children and their parents for an event at Chelsea Football Club’s Cobham training ground. Paul says “William loves his football, he’s a season ticket holder at Derby County and now he has recovering from his operation he’s back playing for Rolls Royces Leisure U9’s football team. It was a fantastic day at Chelsea, seeing children from a range of ages and stages of treatment, taking part in a soccer school where the likes of Hazard, Fabregas, Kante, Costa and Cahill train.”

“Not only was it great to see the children take part, it was great to chat with fellow parents about their experiences. It was comforting, hearing similar stories of what each family has gone through. It’s also great for William to see other children with the condition, so he knows it ‘not just him’”, Clair adds.

It was from this, that Paul came up with their next idea to help raise funds and awareness of a condition that can affect one in a thousand new born babies.

“We wanted to try and do something we can all take part in, we love travelling. Not only did we want to try and raise money for the charity, but we wanted to help raise awareness of the condition and the charity itself, meeting talipes families along the way.”, Paul explains.

On 18th July, 2017, Paul, Olivia and William attended the Doncaster Rovers v Derby County pre-season friendly to start off their ‘Year of Clubfootball’. “The challenge is for us to visit all the 92 league football clubs within a year. At the same time we are looking at meeting up with many fellow talipes children and parents along the way”, Clair advises.

Since then the Pounder’s have visited a number of clubs including Northampton Town, Barnsley, Leeds and combined Exeter City and Forest Green Rovers on the return from the family holiday in Cornwall. Paul says “We’ve recently visited both Manchester Untied and Manchester City. Both clubs have been excellent, allowing us to go pitch-side for photos along with showing us the dressing rooms”.

“We’ve already planned a number of other visits, including Wembley in November for the England v Germany game. We’ll meet up with fellow parents along the way. We’ve already been in touch with a number of parents, and have plans to meet up with them at Stevenage, Hull, Huddersfield and Plymouth throughout the year, and hopefully many more”, Clair explains.

You can follow the Pounder’s progress through their website at www.yearofclubfootball.co.uk where he has uploaded a number of videos from their stadium visits. Follow their twitter account @YrClubfootball. Donations can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/year-of-clubfootball where all money raised will go to STEPS Charity.

About the Pounder family

Clair (43), Paul (41), Olivia (10) and William (8) live in Hucknall, Nottingham. Paul and William are season ticket holders at Derby County. Paul has setup Year of Clubfootball website at www.yearofclubfootball.co.uk, Twitter: @YrClubFootball Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YearOfClubFootball/ to support his fundraising for STEPS Charity.

For further information please contact: Paul Pounder on 07885 449739 or by email: paulpounder@gmail.com

About Steps

STEPS (www.steps-charity.org.uk) is the leading voice of lower limb conditions. Everything they do is about valuing and supporting individuals, families and carers affected by clubfoot, hip dysplasia or any other lower limb condition. Every year, over 2000 families contact STEPS, often in desperation, for clear information about their child’s condition, the treatment options available and how to care for their child on a daily basis. Famous people born with the condition similar to William include Steven Gerrard, and local poet, Lord Byron.

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