Most Able & Talented

In partnership with the National Literacy Trust Cymru, the Premier League decided it was time to  to get involved with young people in a new way and encourage them to read just for the sheer fun and excitement of it. Thousands of young people are crazy about Premier league football and idolise many of the stars who are talked about incessantly on the playgrounds of every school in the land. Players like Wayne Rooney, YaYa Toure and Aaron Ramsey are role-models for young people and the National Literacy Trust thought it would inspire kids to read if they were encouraged by their heroes and heard them talking about their favorite books.

The reading scheme devised by the Trust is based on a 10 week ‘season’ and features a different ‘fixture’ each week. The squad members get the chance to read football programmes, football annuals, match reports, novels and short stories. After each fixture they complete a ‘match report’ of their own and log all their reading experiences. ‘Tactics’ are discussed to improve reading skills and the players earn ‘rewards’ during the season. The players get to wear the strip of their favourite team during the fixtures and practice some football skills. The Reading Stars website features online challenges presented by a top player from reach of the Premier league clubs and each fixture would end with some of the challenges.

Aberdare Community School was one of the first schools in Wales to sign up for the new season and quickly put together a squad of thirty players divided equally into three groups: Mrs Kowalski, Mr Jefferies and Mr Sheppeard would be the coaches The pupils selected were in need of a boost to their reading skills and this scheme seemed ideal. A squad room was set aside for the fixtures and was filled with colourful books, posters, match-day programmes and news reports for the players. The scheme was given a high-priority and teachers were generous in allowing pupils to attend the sessions in order to improve their reading.

The season was a great success and was thoroughly enjoyed by players and coaches. The players were really enthusiastic about the sessions and enjoyed reading more than they ever had before. The players were able to improve their reading skills at the same time as having fun. As an end of season treat, the squad headed off to the Cardiff City stadium for a fantastic tour led by Mr. Gary Wilmott of the club’s Community Foundation; the players sat in the ‘dugout’, the home team changing room and visited the hallowed boardroom. The boys soon realised that the Cardiff City and Wales players look after the ladies in the club laundry more than anyone else, when one of the kind ladies allowed the boys to be photographed with her special presentation shirt from Gareth Bale !!