An avid cyclist is set to complete a 35-hour ride around all 18 professional London football clubs to raise awareness for modern slavery and human trafficking in sport.
Gordon Miller, who regularly takes on cycling feats, including an international ride around the east coast of the US in October, started the challenge at 8am on December 2 and is set to complete it by 3pm on December 3, cycling an average of 65 miles a day for two days.
Mr Miller is the founder of community interest company (CIC) Ride For Freedom and is using his US adventure to help raise funds for its “freewheel programme”, which empowers survivors of modern slavery to cycle to support their physical and mental health.
“The Ride For Freedom Cycle Revolution fundraiser takes place every year from 2-4 December”, Mr Miller, who lives in London, told the PA news agency.
“So it was fortunate that the World Cup is taking place at the same time because Ride For Freedom delivers its mission to raise awareness of modern slavery by engaging with high impact football/sports clubs, companies and aligned charities.”
He said that despite feeling as though the World Cup should have “never” been held in Qatar “because of the human rights abuses and incidents of labour exploitation/modern slavery that have been well-documented”, he is aware that football is a game which unites the nation and wanted to take the opportunity to raise awareness of these issues.
He added that he drew inspiration from the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2020 Report, which highlighted that “within Europe’s soccer industry alone, it is estimated there are 15,000 human trafficking victims each year”.
“Many are youths who are lured to Europe by false promises of trials with professional football clubs that do not exist. Instead, they become exploited, victims of modern slavery”, he said.
On December 3, he is to go onto the pitch at Dagenham and Redbridge FC at half-time, alongside pupils from local Hunters Hall Primary School and Barking and Dagenham Cycling Club, to speak to the crowd about human trafficking in football before having a bucket collection to raise money for his community interest company.
Despite the ride being his last for 2022, he added that he has looked back fondly over the “incredible and impactful” last “12 months or so”.
Other challenges he has taken part in include cycling the length of Spain and setting a Guinness World Record (GWR) last October for the greatest distance covered by an electric bicycle in seven days and a tour of the 18 German Bundesliga clubs.
“I’ve cycled through some truly beautiful scenery during the past year, the Jefferson National Forest (USA), Black Forest (Germany), Cabo de Gata National Park (Spain) come to mind, and created life-long memories,” he said.
“There’s been some tough times too.
“Three punctures in the first day of my ultimately successful Guinness World Record ride in Spain created loads of anxiety and left me feeling the attempt was doomed before it had barely begun.
“And seven consecutive 12-hour days on the bike produced a few painful saddle sores.”
He added that support from people for his rides has meant a “great deal” because “it’s validation that Ride For Freedom’s vision and mission resonate with other people”.
“It motivates me to cycle and advocate more, and ultimately the more individuals, sports clubs, companies and charities who support our work the more impact we can have to contribute to end modern slavery and support survivors to cycle, through our Freewheel programme, to help them with their confidence and independence.”
Cycling is very much on the cards for Mr Miller next year, with one of his dreams of cycling a stage or more of the Tour de France set to become a reality in June 2023.
More information about Mr Miller’s CIC and his donations page can be accessed here: https://donorbox.org/cycle-revolution-virtual-2022/fundraiser/gordon-miller