The road to Qatar began quite a while ago for the 32 teams involved in the 22nd edition of the footballing World Cup, being played out over the coming weeks.
But for Wolves Disability FC, the team run by Wolves Foundation, the journey to Doha is only just beginning.
And that’s because the adult players from within the Disability ranks have embarked on a ‘virtual’ challenge to cover enough miles to make it from Wolverhampton to Qatar.
“We were having a chat about what we could do during the World Cup to engage the team and give us something to focus on and the idea we came up with was this particular challenge,” says Gavin Jones, inclusion lead with Wolves Foundation and coach of the adult disability team.
“The idea is that, between the coaches and players, we have to cover the distance between Molineux and Doha, which we have worked out is over 4,000 miles!
“That can be however any of the players are able to do it – walking, jogging, cycling, on a treadmill, a rowing machine, whatever people want to do.
“We launched it all by using the gym equipment at The Way Youth Zone last week and our plan is to try and complete the distance before the end of the World Cup which, given we’ve had a bit of a slow start, is going to be quite a challenge!”
Jones is being joined by fellow coaches Mark Bromley, Matt Elcock and Louis Guttridge in aiming to clock up the miles and the challenge may yet be extended to younger members of the teams in the near future.
The captain Daz James, who has previously carried out some long-distance cycling challenges of his own, is also off and running and has covered 60km already.
Wolves Disability play their football in the Staffordshire Ability Counts League and run eight teams in total, three at adult level, three at Under-16s and two at Under-12s.
The team are without a sponsor for the current season and have to generate their own income whether through fundraising efforts or subs from players and parents.
As a result, they are hoping to raise some funds for this challenge, and have set up a fundraising page where fans can support their efforts.
“We are set up on Strava where a lot of the team will take part and will also add in the distances of others who are taking on the challenge separately,” added Gavin.
“We are hoping it is a challenge which will not only help fitness levels and raise funds, but also continue to develop team spirit.
“There is already a healthy camaraderie with people pushing each other on – two of the lads got on the rowers at The Way last week and pushed each other to complete ten miles between them in just over 45 minutes.
“That’s what we are looking for, the lads to push each other on, and hopefully if people remember those matches we played at half time on the pitch they will get behind us and it will prove a really good challenge.”
As the challenge progresses, the team plan to display the progress on a map, showing how far their collective efforts have taken them before hopefully arriving in Qatar prior to the World Cup Final on December 18th.
You can lend your support and donate to the Wolves Disability fundraisier by clicking here.