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Teresa Parish is the community officer at Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club. She is also the secretary of the charity Living the Dream Dagenham and Barking Trust, which supports local young athletes in becoming successful in their chosen sport.

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Sport has always been my passion and through it I’ve always worked close to people and the community.

Living the Dream was something I had thought about for a long time.

When I was working at the council I became aware that there were lots of youngsters with lots of talent which got lost for practical reasons. It’s very expensive to play sport at a high level.

Everyone thinks that once you get into a national side everything is paid for you, but it’s not. For instance, athletes have to pay for their own flights and accommodation. If they can’t afford it, they fall out of favour with the national coaches and it’s over.

I remember, when I was at college, I got picked to be part of the World Student Games in basketball, which were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I didn’t think that my family was going to be able to afford it so I chose not to go. I never even asked them.

I missed out on the chance of a lifetime and I’ve never forgotten that.

When we got the Olympics as a country in 2005, I thought I needed to make sure that this never happened to a youngster again. I picked 12 people from around the community and we set up Living the Dream.

The charity was formally launched in 2007. Since that time we’ve raised more than £80,000 and given out nearly £30,000 in grants to youngsters. We’ve got about six who have the potential to be in Stratford in July next year. It’s great. I also have support from the football club which has adopted us as its official charity.

But it’s really about the community helping the community. Luckily, we have a community that still gets involved. I’m very proud that we’re the only charity in London doing what we are doing. And, of course, it will only take one of our youngsters to walk out on July 23 next year into that stadium and there won’t be a dry eye here. I shall be crying and cheering with everybody else.”

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