Leon, from our Premier League Unified Kicks sessions, was surprised to receive our One of Our Own award while volunteering at Port Sunlight River Park for the group’s Protect The Planet social action project.
Leon has come a long way since first attending our sessions in 2018, when he was home-schooled and the session was the only time he would leave the house during the week. He has developed into a confident young man, and now helps newcomers to the session settle in and feel comfortable.
He is always smiling and likes to celebrate his teammates’ goals just as much as his own, as he tells us in the interview below.
Tranmere Rovers is one of 90 professional football clubs funded to run weekly Premier League Kicks sessions, supporting hundreds of young people to achieve their potential in Wirral.
Our Unified Kicks group had took a trip to Port Sunlight River Park, where they were helping out by trimming shrubs on the park’s Mersey View, when we surprised Leon with the award.
Leon said: “I was a bit shocked at first as I didn’t really expect it, but I was happy! It feels really nice to be noticed and recognised.
“I think it’s really important to help people because it can help them get better and better, and start to become a really good person, and maybe even to become a professional footballer!
“I used to just be shy and apprehensive, and only used to complete half a day a week at school because I didn’t really like the outside, but now I’m out here just doing the best I can.”
Leon’s mum, Sarah, said: “I had never envisioned Leon achieving all the great things he has including this award today. He was diagnosed with autism before he was three years old, he needed physiotherapy to help him walk, he was wearing nappies day and night right up until he was 10.
“Every time he meets a milestone, whether it be years behind other children his age, I’m so grateful and so proud of him. He is the kindest soul and he has a heart of gold, and no matter what challenges life throws at him he tries his best in everything he does, always putting other people before himself.”
“His anxiety prevented him attending school in Year 1 after trying several mainstream and specialist settings and he was then home schooled for five years by myself. It was in this period, July 2018, when Leon started attending Tranmere.
“Unfortunately Leon’s life at home was turned upside down when his dad was sentenced to a lengthy custodial prison sentence. Faye and the staff at Tranmere in the community have been a rock for Leon and kept him focussed on becoming the best version of himself, giving him access to workshops discussing county lines and knife crime and as a vulnerable child it’s been highly beneficial to him.
“I can’t thank Faye and the staff enough for everything they do for Leon and I hope we can all continue to be amazed by all the great things he achieves in his bright future.
“He’s on his second school year at Orrets Meadow School where he has been allocated the roles of head boy, house captain and reading ambassador. Well done Leon, keep smiling and keep shining.”
If your child may be interested in joining our Unified Kicks football sessions, please email Faye on FayeJ@tranmererovers.co.uk. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 0151 608 2354.