Tony Foskett

All proceeds will be split 50/50 between Ataxia UK and the 'Tony 4 Barca' fund.

An introductory note from a family member:

Hi, I'm Nick Cook, Uncle to Tony and for a number of years Tony's football coach. Tony was an extremely exciting and talented young footballer, until at the age of twelve his condition took hold of his body, unfortunately meaning he was then unable to play.

As a passionate Spurs fan and a huge follower and admirer of Barcelona (Lionel Messi in particular), I thought it would be a great idea to see if we could provide him with an opportunity to watch his footballing hero live in action and what better way than performing in 'El Classico'.

As an owner of NCFootball, I thought we could provide a platform for this to happen...'Tony 4 Barca'.

Coming from a very close family, we have all been on this journey.

                                                               Tony's Story:

Hi all. This is the story of how my journey has been and continues to be throughout my life, living with this awful genetic condition.

My story begins with myself as an ordinary little boy: loads of energy, football mad (still am), loved my bike - 0-100 mph with everything I did. Then as I got a little older, my mum started to notice I was a bit clumsier than others my age. I was constantly: falling over, coming back inside with cuts, hitting my head, ripping clothes. To all parents who are reading, you're probably thinking that sounds like my little boy/girl! My mum just decided to get me checked.

The diagnosis took all in all about 2 years due to Friedreichs Ataxia being a rare condition, even more so than it is now. The doctors were aware that something was wrong; they were unable to pinpoint exactly what, again due to the rarity and complexity of the condition. I was way too young to understand any of it and had more important things on my mind like scoring goals! I remember a day at the hospital having wires attached to sticky circular ends placed all over me. I remember thinking to myself 'what are these and why are they being put on me?'. I became so uncomfortable I ended up shouting 'No', ripping the wires off; 'I'm going home', then ran out of the room and down the hall! After someone had run after me, caught me and calmed me down I was encouraged to sit there by my mum, Nan and doctor. It had 0% to do with the sweets the doctor was offering! I don't remember anything else before I was diagnosed or before I entered secondary school apart from I managed to score 154 goals on one single football fun-week and what a cool Pokemon card collection I had!

I was extremely nervous going into my secondary school year, mainly due to the fact that I was starting to understand my condition’s physical implications. Before the school year started, I went to summer school at the school I had chosen. I wanted to get a feel for the school, meet some class mates and show off my football ability!

First day of the secondary school year came along, we had been given our classes and form tutor and I was lucky enough to have been put with a lot of the kids I'd met through summer school. My mum and form tutor had decided it would be best to inform my class of the condition I had, ON DAY 1! So, nervous, I pulled a sicky and I was sent home. The next day I was shaking going into form, but my form tutor had lined everyone up and they said "don't worry bruv we got you". I wanted to say I love you all but I had rep and street cred to keep up so I opted for "safe". I think it helped that we were the only all lads class in the school so it made us all tighter.

After school one day me and my mates decided to stay behind for a kick about (shock... more football). The girls’ football team were training so being a 13 year old boy I decided to watch, REALLY watch! The ball came in our direction; one of the girls ran over to get it, my friends knew her and shouted "hey". Not original. She replied "hi" pointed at me and said "who's that?" Without moving I replied "wassup" thinking I was too cool for school! Morale of the story is that I was already starting to see a dent in my confidence.

Throughout the ages of 13 and 14 I continued to notice myself becoming more imbalanced and less physically capable. I then received news that I needed a serious spine operation to stop the curvature of my spinal cord (scoliosis). I had either read or heard that without this operation it could be fatal. An easy decision it proved to be, despite mum sitting me down and saying I would lose the ability to play football - by far the most difficult thing about Friedreichs Ataxia. As I went into hospital the day before my operation I was terrified. I remember saying "I don't wanna do this" and mum saying "you don't have to but it will get worse and quicker". I went through with it. I came out looking as tall as Peter Crouch. The scoliosis had caused me to be permanently lean at a 35-40 degree angle. My rehabilitation process began with us being told I would need to be kept in the hospital for 3 months. I was out in a week! Mum likes to claim it’s her cooking but we all know calcium makes teeth and bones stronger #justsaying.

I had to take 9 months off school, #happydays #chillin, due to the risk of my scar being re -opened. I had constant visits from friends and postcards from my year including the fittest girl in my year #playa #whatasort. Throughout my latter year eleven and school days it was difficult to notice physical degeneration as I was already confined to a wheelchair - it was mainly cognitive and speech difficulties.

Adulthood has been difficult as well seeing changes physically, although these are a lot slower as I'm a frequent gym goer and I'm a permanent wheelchair user with limited mobility.

My self-confidence was really in pieces after l left school with my mates all being able to go out to work and constantly meeting new people. One four- day break within this country changed my mindset and gave me a confidence boost. I think it was due to in part myself adopting the 'just go for it' mindset and my brother,Terry Foskett, encouraging that mindset. I enjoyed it so much that it persuaded me to book a lads' holiday for me, Terry and 5 of our mates. #ladsladslads. The Magaluf trip just proved to me, even though I have this devastating condition it doesn't mean I'm unable to take part in most activities most young men can.

Straight after Maga I took part in a clinical trial for Friedreichs measuring the safety and effectiveness of the drug Nicotinamide. The results were amazing, I was able to physically do things which I had been unable to do for years. I was buzzing!

Two years had gone by and I was getting really frustrated with no news regarding a trial or any that were going on. I started on a sleeve tattoo journey which I have with different quotes which have been apparent in my life. Mum wasn't keen until I told her I was getting mum surrounded by roses and stars!

It's been frustrating but I still keep up to date with research and findings through Facebook, the internet and an Ataxia magazine sent through our door. There is a lot of research and money being pumped into finding treatments and potentially a cure for the Ataxia family, so fingers crossed and watch this space!

Tony Foskett