Date published: 19/03/2013
11 year old Declan Thomas from Leigh had his dream come true when he led out Wigan Athletic FC at the DW Stadium against Newcastle United on 17th March in front of the TV cameras.
On the day Wigan gained a crucial 2-1 win over the Magpies to ease their relegation fears. Arouna Kone’s 90th minute winner gave the Latics all three points after Newcastle United full back Santon had cancelled out Beausejour’s 18th minute opener.
Declan was selected by the Barclays Spaces for Sports site – The Old Trafford Sports Barn, Manchester – to be an official Barclays Premier League mascot because he is a keen footballer, playing in goal for his team twice a week, as well as being an avid Wigan fan.
The opportunity came from the Barclays Spaces for Sports programme, which has 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.
Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi said, “I’m delighted that local kids have the opportunity to get involved in regular football coaching and that Declan has had the opportunity to be the mascot for our match against Newcastle United. I hope he enjoyed the day.”
Bernie Jones, Chief Executive of the Trafford Community Leisure Trust said, “The Old Trafford Sports Barn brings huge benefits to the local community and I’m thrilled that Barclays Spaces for Sports is able to give a worthy young person from our site the chance of being a Barclays Premier League mascot.”
A Barclays spokesman said: “Barclays Spaces for Sports is delighted to provide this unique opportunity for Declan to be an official mascot of the Barclays Premier League game between Wigan Athletic FC and Newcastle United FC. This is one way in which the programme supports the many thousands of participants at our 200 sites across the country.”
Declan said “I had a brilliant day being an official Barclays mascot. I don’t think I will ever forget walking onto the pitch at the DW Stadium.”