SHE was the football-mad 11-year-old who always wanted to see her dream team, coached by her dad, take to the pitch.
But when active Demi Talman tragically died following a devastating asthma attack, the youngster’s hopes of setting up a women’s football team, full of her loved ones, were almost lost too.
That was until her parents found a scrunched up piece of paper, after the Havant youngster’s death, outlining her ambitions for the squad she’d affectionately named the ‘Super Shooters’.
And on Saturday, more than two years after her sudden death, Demi’s wish finally came true as the team – which included her mum, Kathleen Talman – took to the pitch for their very first game.
In a thrilling 40-minute match at Demi’s old school, Park Community School, Havant, the gang of novice footballers showed off their skills, acquired during seven weeks of hard training - while raising more than £1,200 for Asthma UK.
Demi’s dad, Phil – who coached the squad alongside his daughter’s uncle, Andy Faithful – was full of pride.
The 36-year-old commercial glazer said: ‘She would have absolutely loved this, she would have been proud as punch, especially knowing her mum is playing today. It would have meant so much to her.’
Demi suffered a catastrophic asthma attack on February 22, 2017, while visiting family in Cosham.
It left her with severe brain damage and unable to breathe without the aid of a machine.
Three days later, Kathleen and Phil took the heartbreaking decision to switch-off her life-support machine. She died shortly afterwards.
Phil said the discovery of Demi’s dream team touched the family.
‘Demi was a huge Manchester United fan – she always had been,’ he said. ‘But before she died, she’d written down on a piece of paper that she always wanted me to become a football manager for a team called the “Super Shooters”.
‘She’d written down who should be in the team, what kit they should have, what the logo should be – everything.’
Armed with that knowledge, Phil started recruiting Demi’s friends and family to join the squad for the charity kickabout, eventually getting enough for a full team.
They even printed off shirts with the logo Demi drew for the Super Shooters before she died.
Mum Kathleen played during the seven-a-side match and said: ‘Hopefully Demi would be proud of us all being out here. This was her little dream team.’
She added: ‘The support has been absolutely amazing today. All Demi’s friends are here from school. They’re all doing it for her, for an 11-year-old who just loved football.
‘I’m proud to be her mum.’
Phil added most of the players had never kicked a football before they started training – let alone finished an entire match.
‘It’s really brought the family together,’ he said. ‘It makes you feel as though you’re achieving something and doing something for Demi.’
The family’s staged a fundraiser last year, which drummed up £900.
Phil now hopes the team can play more regularly as a full side and to stage future football fundraisers for Asthma UK.