Laureus Sporting Moment launches with emotional meeting between Manchester City fan Finlay Fisher an

This month sees the return of Laureus Sporting Moments, highlighting the sporting stories from around the world that touched our hearts and inspired us all.  It launches with the moving story of Jack Grealish and Finlay Fisher. Last year, 11-year-old Finlay wrote to the Man City star expressing his admiration not only for his football abilities, but for the relationship Grealish has with his sister Holly, who has cerebral palsy. Finlay – who also has cerebral palsy – met Grealish soon after at the City Football Academy, where the youngster plays every week as part of a disability football team, organised by the City in the Community charity. Grealish asked Finlay to suggest how he should mark his next goal and the pair developed a special celebration, which Grealish performed in front of a global audience when he scored against Iran at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 

Mike Geary, Head of City in the Community, reflects on an incredible moment and the ripple effect it had. 
IT all started with Finlay's letter to Jack. The reason Finlay admires Jack so much is because he can relate to the way Jack supports his own family and the challenges they have been through. The best thing about this whole story is that it was just natural. Jack chose to write a letter back to Finlay off his own back. Then, afterwards, it was Jack who said, ‘Look, I really want to meet this kid. Can you arrange it?’ 

Finlay was taking part in a disability tournament at the City Football Academy and he had no idea that Jack was coming down to see him. He just lit up when he saw Jack – Finlay’s such a bubbly character! Then, the celebration thing happened, and again it was Jack's idea. He asked Finlay about doing a celebration for him the next time he scored, and the two of them came up with it together. There was a couple of league games to go before the World Cup, but Jack didn’t score. 

Then, it got to the World Cup and he scored against Iran. I'm sitting thinking ‘Is he going to remember?’ All the other players jumped on Jack after the goal and I thought, ‘Oh, he's forgotten’. I mean, it was the World Cup – you'd forgive him if he hadn’t remembered! Then he turned to the camera and did the celebration. Instantly, my phone, and all our staff members’ phones, just started lighting up! ‘Oh my God, have you seen this?!’ 

Then it just went crazy. Finlay was on every TV channel and radio show under the sun. Even after the game, Jack wanted to FaceTime Finlay from the team hotel. No one asked him to do it. When Jack came back from the World Cup, he hosted Finlay and his family in a box at the Etihad. No publicity – just a conscious decision to share the moment with Finlay and his family. 
A Moment of Inclusion
Laureus are celebrating and highlighting a number of inspiring moments from around the world of sport – and the fact that Finlay and Jack’s story is launching the Laureus Sporting Moments reminds us all of the power that sport can have to inspire and teach, sentiments which drives the work of City in the Community. 

A lot of the City in the Community stories happen within the ‘Man City world’ – and it’s just the fans of the club who see them. But Finlay and Jack’s story not only reached a huge football audience, but touched non-football people, who were just watching the news. It shone a light on what we do for disability football, in particular. One of our core values as a charity is inclusivity and Finlay is just one of thousands of young disabled people who access our programmes week in, week out. 
We're lucky at Man City that our players and sponsors are invested in what we do. I think the local lads have a particular investment in it because they know Manchester as a city. You look at our first team with the likes of Cole Palmer, Rico Lewis and Phil Foden – these are local lads who have come through the system, and it’s the same on the women's side. It means that a lot of the youngsters can relate to them. All our players understand that supporting community is part of the club's heritage. We were formed as a football club in the 1890s to support local people. It's part of our DNA, our history. 
I started at City in the Community back in 2007. It was a year before the takeover and it's a very different club now. There were 15 full-time staff then and we've now got a team of over 100. One of my favourite projects over the last 10 years has been ‘Kicks’, an outreach programme which provides mentoring and open-access football sessions in areas of social deprivation. Often, what happens is that young people come along as participants then become volunteers. From there, they get experience, we help them secure qualifications and they become our next generation of workforce. Very often, they go back to the area where they grew up and work with young people who otherwise might get involved in antisocial behaviour. More recently, we developed our own accredited degree with Manchester Metropolitan University. Providing positive role models and a pathway into employment is a huge part of what we do.
Both Jack and Finlay are amazing role models in their own way – and the story of their relationship has really helped bring our message to the wider world. Having Laureus recognise and celebrate it is added proof of the value sport and athletes can bring and we’re delighted to be selected as a Laureus Sporting Moment.

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