RISING Thetford football club Tugas United have dedicated their latest trophy to one of their junior players.

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Tugas have won back to back promotions in the Crown Fire Central and South Norfolk League.

Their most dramatic success came in the season just finished, when their exploits in cup competitions left them having to play their last seven league games in two weeks to claim the title.

Now they have dedicated the triumph to one of their youth team players, 13-year-old Diogo Machado, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Club founder and chairman Joe Barreto explains: “Diogo has been a true inspiration to us all for the past couple of years.

“He has had excellent personal development and team achievements and has supported his team-mates and all other players that he has been in contact with.

“He has gained the respect of all adult and youth players with his attitude and respect, and these are only some of the reasons why everyone was shocked to hear that, after a routine hospital visit to look into some knee pain, Diogo was diagnosed with cancer.

“Obviously this is the type of news that no one should get, so Diogo is no different, but even with these adversities, he became a bigger inspiration lifting his chin and facing the future with a smile.

“His bravery, humbleness, discipline, respect and attitude to those around him are the reasons that I decided, with the unanimous support of every member of the club, to dedicate this achievement to our young hero – and to give him strength to play this very personal championship with the hope of seeing him back among us in full health.”

Barreto formed Tugas three years ago to provide a focus for some of the town’s multi-cultural community.

For the past two years their main focus has been to provide free sports and activities to younger age groups as well as the adults – and it was as result of that initiative that Diogo came to join them.

“We have players from Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Brazil, Spain and many other places,” said Barreto. “But you wouldn’t notice they come from all over the world when they are together on the football pitch.”

Apart from their instant football success, which included a run to the semi-finals of the Norfolk Primary Cup final last year, Tugas are getting an international reputation.

They hosted American club Miami Lakes last year and, as a result, now have strong links which are likely to include player exchanges.

Anyone willing to consider helping Tugas with sponsorship can contact Mr Barreto at info@tugasunitedfc.com

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