A youngster from Birmingham came face to face with his hero, Darren Bent, when he became an official Barclays Premier League mascot for Aston Villa FC last weekend.
12 year old, Khalid Egal from Saltley had his “dream come true” when he led out The Villans for their match against West Ham United FC at Villa Park on Sunday 10th February in front of the TV cameras.
Khalid has been regularly attending sessions at the Green Lane Playing Fields, Barclays Spaces for Sports site, in Bordesley Green for the last two years and, despite being a big Aston Villa fan, had never been to a Premier League game before.
On the day, Villa gained a crucial three points after two goals in four second-half minutes gave them a 2-1 victory over The Hammers and in the process lifted them out of the relegation zone.
The opportunity came from Barclays Spaces for Sports who have built 200 community sports sites in partnership with the Football Foundation. The programme uses sport to revitalise disadvantaged communities and tackle key social issues by helping young people develop a range of life and employment skills. It is part of Barclays community investment programme and wider Citizenship agenda.
Paul Kenna, Development Community Coordinator at the Green Lane Barclays Spaces for Sports site, where Khalid enjoys his football sessions, said, “The site is very proud of the benefits it brings to the local community and is honoured that Barclays Spaces for Sports has given the special chance of being a Barclays Premier League mascot to a exemplary participant at our site.”
A Barclays spokesman said, “Barclays Spaces for Sports are delighted to have been able to provide this unique opportunity for Khalid to be an official mascot of the Barclays Premier League game between Aston Villa FC and West Ham United FC. It is great that the programme is able to support the many thousands of participants at its 200 sites across the country with Barclays sponsorship of the Premier League.”
Khalid, 12, said, “Being an official Barclays mascot was a dream come true. I like playing football at Green Lane and it was really fun to get to go onto the pitch at Villa Park.”