Nino Severino: So proud to see the Baltacha name associated with Ipswich Town again
PUBLISHED: 09:50 28 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:50 28 February 2018
In his latest column, Nino Severino talks of his pride at seeing the Baltacha name once again associated with Ipswich Town Football Club.
Life often presents us with positive and surprising life opportunities, and I’ve been privileged enough to have had my fair share of them.
I’m pleased to say I now have the opportunity to base most of my programme design work in Ipswich, which is connecting me with a wide range of individuals, businesses, teams and academies.
Through my local work, my path crossed with Dan Palfrey, an Ipswich Town Football Club representative – he had heard about the work that Leoni and Martyn Waghorn had been carrying out for the Elena Baltacha Foundation and wanted to meet for a chat to see how the club could help and support.
I’m not sure if either of us had any particular expectation or agenda, but the meeting produced some very exciting possibilities and has led to an official association between Ipswich Town Football Club and the Elena Baltacha Foundation.
Having a club such as Ipswich supporting our foundation is a very positive development.
If you are an Ipswich Town fan, and of a certain age, you will know the very close links between the club and the Baltacha family – Elena’s dad, Sergei, was the very first Russian football player to sign for a British team.
He was transferred from the great Dynamo Kiev Football Club to Ipswich Town over 30 years ago, and brought his wife Olga, Sergei Jnr and Elena with him, they settled in Ipswich, and as they say, the rest is history.
Elena and I used to attend matches at Portman Road quite regularly and one thing was very clear – Sergei Baltacha is held in great esteem, by the fans and the Ipswich Town representatives.
Elena was always treated like royalty when we used to visit, and she absolutely loved Ipswich and clearly had very fond memories of the football club.
I remember our very first visit to the stadium, Elena was invited to the Directors Box, where David Sheepshanks, former chairman of the club was there to greet her.
David is a very close friend to the Baltacha family, and it was very clear how happy he was to see Elena again, they had a very long chat in the lounge before we went out to watch the match.
It’s absolutely fantastic that life has gone full circle and the Baltacha name is once again associated with Ipswich Town Football Club, this time through Elena Baltacha’s foundation.
The meeting between Dan and I has produced a great schedule of events that we are planning to run over the next year, and a schedule that will hopefully see a long and lasting relationship between the foundation and Ipswich Town Football Club.
As a foundation, creating awareness is very important, and it was fantastic to see the press and media supporting us – Donovan Blake from ITV, Stuart Watson from the EADT/Star, the ITFC Channel and Radio Suffolk were all in attendance to cover our first joint event, a sports road show at Sidegate Primary School in Ipswich.
The foundation delivered a tennis-based experience for the children, while two ITFC first team players attended, Martyn Waghorn and Luke Hyam, in fact Luke actually attended the school as a pupil.
Obviously, the children were very excited to see both players there, both of them joining in with the tennis drills, and even feeding the balls to the pupils, finishing with playing a match against each other, with half the pupils cheering for Martyn and the other half for Luke.
Leoni Waghorn also attended as an Elena Baltacha Foundation mentor, she is a fully qualified fitness instructor and took all the pupils through a very dynamic warm up.
The children absolutely loved it, and appreciated Martyn joining the group to also be warmed up by his wife – I thought to myself, this could be a first!
Luke, Martyn and Leoni were absolutely fantastic and helped us make the event a very successful one, hopefully leading to many more children joining our wonderful sport of tennis.
This was a perfect example of how ITFC and the foundation can come together to make a big difference and encourage young children to join a sport and lead a fit and healthy life.
Events such as this road show are so very important to me, because through personal tragedy, loss and blackness we have found positivity and light.