Written by Phil Owtram
Jake Taylor and Aaron Kuhl drop in on Mental Health Football Session
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.
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.”
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