Days before jetting off to join Poland ’s World Cup squad Ipswich Town goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski gave a once-in-a-lifetime thrill and experience for one young Suffolk rising shot stopper.
For 15-year-old Ben Bazendale linked up with the Polish keeper for a coaching session at the Super Blues’ training ground at Rushmere.
The teenage Leeds United fan got the chance to get the tips from the Town’s star man after his mother bid for the session at the “Love Gala” show which was held at the Theatre Royal, in Bury St Edmunds.
The event, which featured a host of star names, was held to raise money for the theatre and the MyWiSH Charity’s Every Heart Matters appeal which supports the West Suffolk Hospital and is aiming to raise £500,000 for a new cardiac centre.
And Ben’s mother, January, was successful in her £250 bid for the prize.
She said: “When I got home and told Ben he thought it was a dream. But Bart was fantastic and was a real gentleman and the people there were so nice and encouraging and although we are Leeds United fans there’s a little bit of Ipswich Town in our hearts now.”
And Ben, who attends Stoke College , in Stoke-by-Clare, and lives in Hawkendon, said: “It was the best experience ever. He (Bialkowski) took me through the changing rooms and asked if I had any boots and gloves and he took me to the boot room and handed me over some boots and gloves which he later signed and gave them to me to keep.
“He then took me out for a few warm up sessions and we did some drills … I loved it, it was so good.
“I went to the Leeds United game this season but I want to go to more games next season at Portman Road . Bart is the best goalkeeper in the Championship.”
And Bialkowski said: “I was delighted to have been asked if I would offer a one to one coaching session to help raise money for the Every Heart Matters appeal.
“I live in Suffolk and this new cardiology unit at West Suffolk Hospital is going to make such a difference to all of us. Ben was a delight to coach and I hope that he went away with some top tips.”
If you would like to donate to the Every Heart Matters Appeal you can do so by going to Justgiving.com/ehma or text EHMA17 £10 to 70070.
Pictured above, left to right, is Malcolm Webster, the former Ipswich Town goalkeeper coach; Mitchell Ware, the club’s Under 23 goalkeeper; Ben Baxendale, Bartosz Bialkowski and Sue Smith, fundraising manager for the MyWiSH Charity.