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Toby’s Triumph

Life can take unexpected turns, and sometimes, it is the resilience and determination of young individuals that inspire us the most. Toby, a 12-year-old boy, has recently embarked on a remarkable journey that has seen him overcome health challenges and rediscover his passion for football. In this blog post, we will explore Toby’s story, from his medical condition and surgeries to the impact they had on his physical and mental health. We will also delve into his triumphant return to the football field and his aspirations for the future.

Toby Nottingham Forest


In February 2021, Toby’s life took a sudden twist when he underwent surgery to remove a ruptured appendix. Unfortunately, this was not the end of his medical ordeal. Five days later, he required a second operation to address an abdominal abscess resulting from the ruptured appendix. During his hospital stay, doctors discovered that Toby had a heart murmur, which led to further investigations.


The subsequent diagnosis in May 2021 revealed a congenital heart disorder called Atrial Spectral Defect, characterised by a 24mm hole in his heart and right-side enlargement. Toby was referred to the East Midlands Congenital Heart Unit at Leicester Royal, where he underwent open heart surgery in April 2022.


Prior to his surgeries, Toby’s physical stature and difficulties keeping up with children his age raised minimal concerns. However, with hindsight, his struggle to gain weight and limited endurance during physical activities were clear symptoms of his undiagnosed heart condition. Toby had become adept at concealing his symptoms, believing they were normal. Post-surgery, his physical growth improved, and he gained weight, igniting a newfound desire to participate in sports and become more involved.

Toby Nottingham Forest


While Toby has grown stronger physically, there remains a lingering fear of exertion and becoming breathless. It takes time to overcome the mental barriers associated with his previous experiences. However, with the support of his family and medical professionals, Toby is gradually embracing the notion that pushing his limits and feeling out of breath does not imply weakness or necessitate stopping an activity. He is learning to trust his body’s capabilities and the strength he has gained through his journey.


One of Toby’s greatest passions is football, and his return to the sport has been a significant milestone. From initially standing back, shying away from participation, and often opting to be the referee, Toby’s newfound enthusiasm is contagious. He now eagerly seizes every opportunity to play football, particularly as a goalkeeper. Nottingham Forest Community Trust’s Goalkeeper Development sessions during school holidays have become a regular part of his life, eagerly anticipated and cherished.


The dedicated coaches at Nottingham Forest Community Trust (NFCT) have been fully informed about Toby’s medical condition. They understand the importance of providing him with extra support and encouragement during the Goalkeeper Development sessions, ensuring that he feels included and valued as a part of the team. The coaches go above and beyond to make Toby feel comfortable, accommodating his needs and ensuring that he can actively participate in the sessions. Their unwavering commitment to his well-being and inclusion creates a nurturing environment where Toby can thrive and continue to pursue his passion for football.

Toby Nottingham Forest


Vikki, Toby’s mum said. “Toby has had a tough couple of years, but his bravery and resilience has been amazing. We are so proud of him and try and do everything we can to encourage his love of football and the team at NFCT have been and are brilliant with him, they are so patient and encourage him every step of the way. He can’t wait to attend the goal keeping sessions during the school holidays and enjoys every minute he’s there.”


Kamen, Lead Coach at NFCT has been working closely with Toby, emphasises the importance of inclusivity and support, saying, ‘We understand the challenges Toby has faced and the significance of providing him with the additional support he needs. Our goal is to create an inclusive environment where every player feels valued and included. We make sure Toby knows that he is an integral part of our sessions, and we provide him with the encouragement and assistance he requires to fully participate and enjoy the game he loves. Seeing Toby’s determination and progress is truly inspiring, and we are proud to be a part of his journey.”


Toby’s dream extends beyond recreational football. He aspires to join a team, even if initially for training purposes. However, finding a team willing to accept him has proven challenging due to his limited training compared to his peers. Nevertheless, Toby remains optimistic and eagerly awaits the school football training sessions scheduled for September. His determination and dedication to improving his skills shine through, making his dreams of playing alongside his peers an achievable reality.


Toby’s journey exemplifies the resilience and strength of spirit that children possess, even in the face of significant adversity. Overcoming a ruptured appendix, a heart condition, and multiple surgeries, Toby has not only regained his physical health but has also reignited his passion for football. With each step forward, he inspires others to embrace their own challenges and pursue their dreams with unwavering determination. Toby’s story reminds us that setbacks are not the end but opportunities for personal growth, and with perseverance, one can triumph over any obstacle.

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