Fratton Park hero Darren Moore has given his resounding backing to The News’ literacy campaign.
He spoke out during an emotional visit to a school where his charity is helping children read their best.
The ex-Pompey player saw first-hand how Year 3 pupils at Wimborne Juniors in Southsea are benefiting from Faith and Football’s Extra Time scheme that has already had huge success across the city.
His aim – like our Read All About It campaign – is to boost literacy.
The Extra Time scheme offers half an hour of one-to-one reading with a volunteer and another 30 minutes of group fun with word games and competitions each week.
Darren said: ‘It was great for me to see first-hand the work that’s going on.
‘The afternoon spent with these children and their mentors was a joy.
‘The youngsters were all so bright and it’s wonderful seeing them get the extra help they need to fulfil their potential. I am incredibly proud.’
He added: ‘I feel that everyone can engage in football and I use it as a vehicle to promote positive messages.
‘I’m here to show them that to get on in life and move forward, you have to read – even if you are a footballer.
‘I’m 100 per cent behind The News’ campaign. The more children read the better their prospects are.’
Over the past five years, Cottage Grove, St George’s Beneficial CoE, St Swithun’s Catholic, St John’s Cathedral Catholic primaries in Portsmouth and St John The Baptist CoE Primary in Fareham have signed up to Extra Time.
Pupils on the scheme have seen their reading ages improve by three-and-a-half years in nine months.
Rosie Mann, eight, at Wimborne, said: ‘My reading is a lot better now. The books get harder but I recognise more words.’
Naomi Hargreaves, Extra Time director, said: ‘Some children think reading’s a chore, but when they meet role models like Darren it gives them that aspirational boost.’