Jake Taylor and Aaron Kuhl drop in on Mental Health Football Session

Written by Phil Owtram

Jake Taylor and Aaron Kuhl drop in on Mental Health Football Session

Group Shot

Jake Taylor and Aaron Kuhl recently took time out of their football schedules to pay a visit to a YMCA mental health football course supported by the Reading FC Community Trust. The players attended a session at Prospect Park in Reading, after stepping off the team bus following their draw at Leeds the previous evening. Jake and Aaron took part in a Q&A session, during which they explained how they became professional footballers, their weekly training routines, the best players they’d played with and against and their favourite Reading goal so far this season, before posing for photographs and signing autographs for the group.

Jake and Aaron have long associations with the club despite their tender years, after joining the academy at the ages of 8 and 10 respectively. Reading’s 19-year-old midfielder, Aaron Kuhl reminisced about his best goal. Playing for Reading’s under-16s, he hit a volley from just past the halfway line that nestled in the top corner. Both players agreed that their favourite Reading goal so far this season is Pavel Pogrebnyak against Newport County in the Capital One cup.

Jake spoke about former academy players Gylfi Sigurdsson, Hal Robson-Kanu and Reading captain Jem Karacan, he said “To see someone do it that has come through the academy the same as us, is a good thing.” Jake also talked about his experience with the Welsh national team and training alongside Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey saying “It was ridiculous, it was a completely different level to everything I’ve been used to, the way they train, the way they conduct themselves off the pitch is just another level.”

Aaron was then quizzed on who the best player he has played with is and he said that it was one of Pavel Pogrebnyak, Simon Cox or Glenn Murray while Jake said that Tottenham defender, Jan Vertonghen and Thiago Alcantara of Bayern Munich are the best players he has come up against.

The players finished the Q&A session describing their best moments in a Reading shirt.  Aaron citing his first team debut as his favourite moment so far, while Jake said it was scoring his first goal for Reading, against Ipswich in August.

Jake Taylor and Aaron Kuhl with Fan

The Reading players were supporting the session put on for residents at Reading YMCA. There are 40 young people who reside at Reading YMCA, aged between 16-25, who find themselves either unemployed or without permanent accommodation for various reasons.

The main aim is to help integrate them back into the community through education or work experience. Those housed by the YMCA and interested in playing football are able to come along to the weekly 2-hour training session run by a coach from the Reading FC Community Trust. The group are put through their paces with a number of football drills, before they take part in a match. They also have the opportunity to take part in local tournaments, where they play other teams in the local area for the chance to progress to further tournaments.

As well as organising football sessions the YMCA offer a range of activities including badminton, pool and table tennis. Tony who has worked for the YMCA for the past four years said “It’s all about keeping the young people motivated to come along.”

Jake Taylor and Aaron Kuhl signing shirt

This is just one of the many activities run by Reading FC Community Trust each week, if you would like more information about the Trusts’ Disability programme please email Dan Rook: DRook@readingfc.co.uk

It’s a walk over for the Reading FC Community Trust

Reading FC Walking Football

Written by Phil Owtram

‘Trying to walk the ball in’ is usually associated with football teams without a clinical edge to their play, but that is exactly what participants of the over 50s club at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre have been trying to do.

Over the past few weeks coaches from the Reading FC Community Trust have been running free walking football sessions.  The group consists of a mix of men and women, many of whom have never played football before, but wanted to try a new sport at a pace that suited them.

It’s easy to assume that this is a form of football without energy, intensity or even competitiveness, but you would be wrong to think that.  After a warm up which included some walking shuttle runs, followed by dribbling drills and shooting practise, the participants were split into three teams to compete in some small sided games. Instantly you could see the competitive spirit within the group, with many having to hold themselves back from breaking into a run. This form of the game focuses on bringing football back to basics, with more reliance on ball control than athletic ability and provides a way into the game for those who may have thought their playing days were behind them.  Player of the match Cassy Pope, 61 said she would recommend walking football to anybody because “It’s great fun, very sociable and a way of getting fit!”

Reading FC Walking Football - Cassy Pope

The group have high ambitions too, with Tony, 71 saying: “We’re going to get into the league and take over the globe!” only for one of his team mates to reply “Is that the Globe Theatre?!” showing that the banter isn’t just confined to the Reading FC dressing room! Joking aside, the enthusiasm on show was clear for all to see and many expressed their intentions to carry on playing once the 10 week course comes to an end.

Reading FC Walking Football

Dave Evans, Reading FC Community Trust Manager, spoke about why he was so keen to have the Trust introduce walking football as part of its offering: “Knowing that our fan base here at Reading FC is made up of at least a quarter who are in this category (over the age of 50) and with the National Health Service and other Health organisations always looking for ways to get older people active, it seemed a good way to engage this age group.” The Reading FC Community Trust will be working alongside the Berks and Bucks FA and Get Berkshire Active to deliver more sessions of walking football in the near future.

For more information on walking football or the other activities carried out by Reading FC Community Trust please email community@readingfc.co.uk