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Republic FC Signs 15-Year-Old Harding Through Make-A-Wish

By Staff, 10/10/18, 9:09PM EDT


Youngest player in club history welcomed by Bijev, Taintor at UC Davis Children’s Hospital

Sacramento Republic FC President & COO Ben Gumpert welcomes 15-year-old Matthew Harding as the club's latest signing through the help of Make-A-Wish and UC Davis Children’s Hospital. | Photo courtesy Irina Filenko / Sacramento Republic FC

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC unveiled their newest signing on Wednesday afternoon as the club signed 15-year-old forward Matthew Harding to a one-game contract through the help of Make-A-Wish and UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

The signing fulfilled the teenager’s wish of becoming a Republic FC player and made Matthew the youngest player in club history as the side prepares to take on Las Vegas Lights FC this Saturday night at Papa Murphy’s Park.

Matthew, who is fighting a rare form of cancer that creates tumors, was officially announced as the club's newest player during a surprise press conference at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, where he was welcomed to the club by Republic FC players Villyan Bijev and Mitchell Taintor. The Sacramento native will train with Republic FC’s first team on Thursday before making his debut during the club’s match against Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday night.

“We are thrilled to welcome Matthew to the club and honor his wish to play for Republic FC,” said Republic FC President & COO Ben Gumpert.  “His indomitable spirit has inspired us and we can’t wait to have him represent our club on the pitch in front of the home crowd this Saturday.”

15-year-old Republic FC signing Matthew Harding is welcomed to the team by defender Mitchell Taintor and midfielder Villyan Bijev. | Photo courtesy Irina Filenko / Sacramento Republic FC

"Matthew is a promising midfield talent and we’re excited to have him signed for this weekend’s game against Las Vegas Lights FC,” said Republic FC General Manager Todd Dunivant. “We look forward to seeing him take the pitch and contribute to our offense."

“UC Davis Children’s Hospital has been part of Matthew’s life every step of the way, from birth until now, and our health care team can’t wait to be part of this special moment when he finds out that his wish will be fulfilled!” said Judie Boehmer, patient care services director at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. 

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