Walk to the World Cup 2014
Friends sharing a few beers and their usual jokey banter in ‘The Little Guy’ pub in Sydney, Australia. Nothing unusual about that!
The talk then turned to the lads’ favourite subject – football – and an idea was hatched to ‘Walk to the World Cup’ in Brazil. How far to walk? The number associated with England and the World Cup is obvious – 1966! So plans begin for three friends to make an epic journey of 1,966 km on foot. Months of planning and scanning maps result in a plan to walk from Mendoza in Argentina to Porto Alegre in Brazil. Calculations show that the walk could be completed between the beginning of March and the start of the World Cup on 12th June.
Discussions take place and a decision is made to walk with the aim of raising £20,000 on behalf of the J de V Arts Care Trust, in order to help the people in the village of Pocos in north eastern Bahia. The village has no running water and has been suffering the worst droughts experienced over the last fifty years. The money will make it possible to drill a borehole and take water to a tank giving running water for the people in the village.
Back home in England again and time to do a bit of fundraising with old friends in Leeds at ‘The Fav’ a favourite haunt from student days. Lots of shopping takes place at ‘Go Outdoors’ for tents, rucksacks, clothing, first aid kits and walking shoes, etc. Flights booked for Dave and Pete in January, with a plan for Adam to join them in Mendoza at the end of February. Media coverage is exciting and BBC Look North started their report with the words ‘Brazil Nuts’ emblazoned over a photograph of Dave and Pete!
Having said ‘goodbye’ to Pete in January, I was enjoying a walk in our local forest and struggling up a rather steep hill. I had the thought “I should be doing this for a reason” and the seed was sown for me to walk one tenth of the lads’ journey and ask sponsors, to help me add a bit more money to the borehole project. I planned to walk 196.6 km (123 miles) during the same timescale, but in walks of roughly 5 or 10 miles at a time as I still have work commitments and am roughly twice the age of the lads! Colleagues, students and friends have all been very generous and supportive and I hope to collect a few hundred pounds by the start of the World Cup in June. My local gym ‘Everyone Active’ have donated a gym membership which I am to raffle in June along with a number of prizes very kindly donated by J de V Arts Care Trust, Middlesbrough Football Club and many local businesses in Guisborough, my home town.
The lads will recount their own tales of their journey, which has had its ups and downs through deserts and storms. They have had some good and bad experiences. They have met some of the most wonderful people one could wish to meet. Their generosity has been greatly appreciated and small things like a meal, a shower and a bed have meant a great deal to the lads. They have enjoyed meeting local people in the villages they have passed through and playing football with the children along the way.
Social media means that we have been able to stay in communication. Photographs and video clips have helped us gain a sense of the journey and enabled us to see that all is well. Their accounts of the walk on Facebook have made me laugh and at times feel embarrassed! They have been joined by another friend, Ben, in Buenos Aires, for the continuing journey. They are now heading through Uruguay and are on target to reach Porto Alegre in June. They are excited to have tickets for two England games and have been presented with full England kits from Nike. Knowing that they have support at home gives them the boost they need to keep walking.
27th April 2014