Arsenal starlet Hector Bellerin has publically backed the Heart4More Foundation, set up by former professional footballer Tobi Alabi
Tobi Alabi collapsed whilst playing football on the 15th October 2013. Luckily Alabi was able to recover from this but had to retire from the game he loves. Since then he has put his focus into a campaign hoping to enable more young footballers to have regular heart screenings.
If heart defects can be detected as soon as possible then that gives people more time to seek help with the issue as well as the chance to plan a career away from football if they can no longer continue in the game.
The Heart4More Foundation is using CrowdFunder to raise funds of £7,000 to screen 100 young people before a football match. This would help publicise the need for more heart screenings and make people more aware of the situation.
Footballers have collapsed before with heart problems which they previously knew nothing about. Fabrice Muamba was of course a recent high profile player to collapse on the pitch and subsequently had to retire but some aren't so lucky. Antonio Puerta died in 2007 whilst playing for Sevilla aged just 22. This caused a big impact in Spain and Hector Bellerin believes a campaign like Tobi Alabi's can have a big impact.
Spaniard, Bellerin said“This Foundation can save people going through what happened to Tobi, or even worse, what happened to Antonio Puerta, a case that made a big impact in Spain while I was playing there."
“It’s just an example of how quick, and without notching, things like this can happen. Thanks to this Foundation we can prevent this.”
Hector had a spell with Barcelona before moving to Arsenal aged just 16. He has made just one appearance for Arsenal, but he played eight times for Watford during a loan spell this season.
“I was very sad for Tobi when I heard what happened because as a footballer, to have what you love doing taken away from you, must be very hard to take.
“But his reaction after what happened to him and to create a Foundation, which is going to help screen people, says a lot of him.”
With less than two weeks to go before the deadline, the Foundation has raised approximately half of the target with £3,300 donated. However, the full target of £7,000 must be achieved by Tuesday 25 March for it to be fully funded.
Tobi Alabi has been giving talks to students and pupils including at his former school, Erith School as part of the campaign and hopes to raise the awareness amongst many young people. Donations can be made at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/heart4more