After seeing 1057 participants over the summer, we ended on a high with a special guest..
Royals centre-back Jake Cooper made a surprise visit to the Indoor Training Centre at the Madejski Stadium meeting aspiring young players who were taking part in a Soccer School, run by Reading FC Community Trust.
After the youngsters had shown the defender some of their skills, Jake took part in a Question & Answer session with the group, and then signed autographs and posed for some photos.
The 21-year-old then got behind the camera and interviewed one of the Soccer School’s participants, Solly Large, discussing all things football and even who his favourite player was! Check out the video at the top of the article to see what he said…
Cooper grew up locally and attended similar soccer schools as a youngster “I used to attend soccer schools, when I was a kid. In the summer holidays my mum and dad were always sending me out the house to get some training and I loved it, all I wanted to do was play football so it was brilliant” he reminisced.
After starring at the Community Trust Soccer Schools as a young boy Cooper then joined the Royals Academy as a 14-year-old, only a couple of years older than some of the young fans participating at the soccer school. He went on to sign his first professional contract with the club at the age of 18.
A Grandparent watching his young grandson attend just his second Reading FC Community Trust Soccer School said: “He loves his football, this is just really good fun for him! He will definitely come back again!”
There was an enthusiastic atmosphere at the event and everyone (including the parents) were very excited to meet a Reading FC first team player in Cooper.
Although the 6ft 6in centre-back towered over the 8-11-year-olds he spent much of the time crouching down to talk to the children and pose for photos. “I used to love events like these when I was a kid,” he said. “To be able to give something back now is great!”
The Community Trust run Soccer Schools around Reading and Berkshire for boys and girls aged 5 to 14 of all abilities during school holidays. Run by FA-qualified coaches, the courses give children the chance to take part in physical activities during the school break. Reading FC Community Trust provide a safe environment for children to learn new skills, improve their technique whilst having lots of fun at the same time!
Young people wanting to launch careers in sport are to benefit from a new partnership between Reading College and The Community Trust at Reading Football Club.
The organisations have joined forces to offer two educational programmes; a Sports and Enterprise Level 2 Diploma for school leavers and a programme targeted at those Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).
The new partnership was officially launched ahead of Reading FC’s match against Ipswich Town, at the Madejski Stadium, on Friday (9 September).
Dave Evans, Community Trust Manager, said: “We are pleased to be partnering with Reading College, which has a strong track record in delivering practical, vocational training and equipping people with the skills required for successful employment.
“The Reading Community Trust aims to engage disadvantaged and vulnerable young people in our community in activities and projects that have a focus on health, education and sports participation. This partnership will support this as we reach out to more young people and engage them in the work of Reading Football Club at a grassroots level.”
Students on both programmes will benefit from using the gym and classroom space at Reading College, as well as the football club facilities at Reading FC. Teaching, coaching and mentoring will be provided by a mixture of Reading College and Reading FC personnel.
Helen Brind, Commercial Support Manager at Activate Learning, the organisation which runs Reading College, said: “We are committed to providing learners with a direct line of sight to employment. Working in partnership with organisations in key industry sectors offers learners highly motivating learning experiences and access to expertise and facilities that they just couldn’t get elsewhere.
“By working with the Community Trust at Reading Football Club we will be preparing young people from a range of backgrounds to enter the sport and leisure industry and develop skills that could lead to a traineeship, apprenticeship or university study.”