An Edinburgh football charity is expanding into the United States, allowing football fans across the pond to live their sporting dream.
Football Aid, whose patrons include former Scotland internationals Denis Law and Danny McGrain, makes “dreams come true” by arranging for fans to play at their favourite team’s pitch in return for a charitable donation.
The organisation has already pledged more than £2.4 million and is now laying down roots in the US, thanks to support from institutions like Business Gateway Edinburgh.
The charity was founded by Craig Paterson, former owner of recruitment business Melville Craig, to raise funds to find a cure for Type 1 juvenile diabetes, a condition Paterson’s son was diagnosed with at the age of ten.
Through its parent charity, Field of Dreams, funds raised from Football Aid events are distributed to diabetes research, education and management projects.
David Dale, CEO of Football Aid, said: “We are delighted to be in a position to expand across the pond and to help even more people live the dream of wearing the shirt, and playing on the ground, of their favourite team to help us raise money for charities.
“Business Gateway and their wider network have been a significant support in enabling this to happen. In addition, they have provided support to us as we look to rebuild the sophisticated technology platform of our website.
“Moreover, they continue to open up learning and networking events which have been well received by the full team at Football Aid.
“We appreciate all of their efforts to help us to grow the organisation further afield, resulting in being able to fulfil many more football dreams and subsequently raise even more money for charity.”
Since its inception in 2000, Football Aid has hosted more than 18,000 fans who have taken part in games at some the world’s most iconic stadiums.
UK locations have included Celtic Park, Ibrox, Hampden Park, Old Trafford and Anfield, while internationally stadiums such as Barcelona’s Camp Nou and Sporting Lisbon’s Estádio José Alvalade have been featured.
After receiving support from Business Gateway Edinburgh, the charity will now move into transatlantic territory with a match at Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire in Illinois.
Susan Harkins, head of Business Gateway Edinburgh, said: “Supporting organisations like Football Aid with everything from our workshops and one-to-one advisory support to creating a new website and intellectual property help is exactly what we’re here for.
“It is great to see it all coming together for this amazing charity which has been an honour to be able to support. We would be delighted to hear from other organisations which need support and assistance to help grow or to improve their business model as this could just be the stepping stone to success they’ve been waiting for.”