Before we met Ayaan last year, he was very anxious, had developed a stutter and he didn’t try new things, only doing what was offered at the base level at school. Ayaan is also deaf. Previously for Ayaan, mainstream sports hadn’t been so accessible, as traditional coaching methods rely on talking to explain things.

Last year, Ayaan took part in our Barking & Dagenham Deaf Inclusive Games programme and for the first time he played football.  A year later, well Ayaan’s progress has been incredible to see. In the last 12 months, his confidence has grown considerably.

Ayaan’s week is centered on the new football club we set up in his school. Through football, Ayaan has discovered that he is a natural leader and has made friends with others across age groups.

We asked him what the best part of playing football is for him, he said ‘I like learning new skills and I like making new friends at the club.

His speech and language have dramatically improved, his stutter is less prominent and his attitude to learning has developed immensely. Those Math and English classes he’d avoided last year – this year, he’s gone in and embraced the new challenge that would’ve scared him a year ago.

Our programme has also created a wider impact in the community and with his family. The sports club has been a great opportunity for the mums to get together, as well as the kids.

Thanks to his positive experience with football, Ayaan is more willing to try new things, even initiating new experiences himself and he’s just taken up tennis with his older brother, which he’s really excited about.

Through sport, Ayaan saw that he too was capable. That he could be seen. He now believes in himself. We’re so inspired to see what he does next.

Thank you to Ayaan's teacher Majella, friend Kulsum and Ayaan for sharing their experience.