A young soccer fan in the UK recently had the chance to be a mascot for his favorite team even though he can't leave his house.
For many young soccer fans in the United Kingdom being a mascot for a match and standing alongside their heroes is a pipe dream. For a lucky few though that dream becomes a reality. They walk out of the tunnel standing shoulder to shoulder with the players of their favorite football club and stand on the pitch with them before the start of a match.
For some children though it is a much harder dream to achieve. Take Everton fan Jack McLinden for example. The fourteen year old is a die hard fan of the Merseyside club, but not only did he think he couldn't ever be a mascot, due to his illness he can't even go to Everton's home, Goodison Park, and watch a match from the crowd.
Thanks to some incredible new technology however, Jack's dream was realized all without him having to leave his own home. As reported by BBC, Jack became the world's first ever remote mascot as Everton's captain Phil Jagielka carried a robot onto the pitch with him that fed live, panoramic images back to Jack. There was even a microphone on the robot which meant he could interact with players while they were in the tunnel.
The robot is called AV1 and was created by Norwegian company No Isolation. It was created to help children with long term illnesses battle loneliness, and also so that they can attend school without actually having to physically be there. The company worked alongside a children's charity in the UK so that they could give Jack a memory he will never forget and one he thought he would never have.
Soccer can often be depicted as a selfish and corporate sport. It's nice to see and hear feel good stories like Jack's which remind us how much good the sport can do and that it can bring people together. Perhaps other children who are in similar situations to Jack will hear his story and it'll raise their hopes about some day doing the same thing if remote mascots become more common place.