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Young football fan completes 26,000 penalties for charity

A young football fanatic from Merthyr is shooting for greatness in support of sight loss charity RNIB Cymru.

Tabitha Ryan, 12, is completing 26,000 penalties and 26,000 keep-ups in her back garden as part of the nationwide 2.6 Challenge.

Football-mad Tabs has been passionate about the game since her parents started taking her to the Little Kickers club as a small child. She now plays for the Tredegar girls under-13s squad as an attacking midfielder and striker.

Her mum, Ellen, is an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) for RNIB Cymru, working for the Powys Health Board. Through her work, Tabs developed an interest in Visually Impaired (VI) football and hopes her fundraising will help to support the game in Wales.

Tabs has already completed 7,000 keep-ups and 5,000 penalties. She is a quarter of the way to reaching her £1,000 fundraising goal.

The 2.6 Challenge launched on Sunday 26 April – the original date of the 2020 London Marathon, the world’s biggest one-day annual fundraising event. The challenge asks people to take on a fundraising activity of their choice that involves the numbers 2.6 or 26. The only requirement is that the activity must follow UK Government guidelines on exercise and social distancing.

So far, dedicated fundraisers for Team RNIB have already raised £15,000 for the charity.

Ellen said: “Tabs has been football crazy since she was little. Her dad and I both love the game and I used to play, too. We call our lounge Wembley because she is always kicking a ball around.

“I’m so proud of her for taking on such a huge challenge. I mentioned it to her after hearing about it at work and she put herself forward and set herself the goals. She’s aiming to do 200 penalties and keep-ups every day and has done really well at sticking to it. It’s a great way for her to stay occupied during lockdown. All football sessions are cancelled and she’s really missing it, so this is a good replacement.

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“Tabs is passionate about supporting the blind and partially sighted community and about VI football in particular. We’re just happy to be raising awareness and funds for such a good cause.”

David Clarke, RNIB’s Director of Services and a former England and Great Britain international footballer said “As a blind footballer who has experienced playing this beautiful game all over the world, it is wonderful for me to see Tab using the beautiful game to practice her skills, inspire others and raise urgently needed funds to support essential RNIB Services when they are needed the most. She is such a hero and her extraordinary efforts are truly humbling. Thank you Tabs.

“If anyone is looking for a way to help fundraise for RNIB, the 2.6 Challenge is a fun, accessible way to get involved and make a real difference. Anyone can take part and the possibilities really are endless.”

For more information about the 2.6 Challenge please visit: https://www.rnib.org.uk/donations-and-fundraising/challenge-events/2-6-challenge

Visit Tabs’s fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tabs-number-8

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