POMPEY players have helped launch a new project to help boost literacy across the area.
More than 2,000 Year 5 children in nearly 40 schools are being given free copies of author Dan Freedman’s book called The Kick Off, as part of a project organised by the Pompey Study Centre.
Children will be given a workshop and an hour’s football coaching at Fratton Park.
The story is the tale of Jamie Johnson’s dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Yesterday, Ashley Harris and Adam Webster were at Fratton Park to launch the project, sponsored by Affinion, with pupils from Isambard Brunel Junior School.
Adam said: ‘It’s good for the kids to promote football and help them develop and see what they want to do when they are older.
‘When I was younger something like this was missing. It’s definitely good for the kids. This will help.
‘Some books when you are younger you don’t really want to read because it’s not fun. But if it’s something they can relate to then that’s going to help.’
Ash Vaghela, deputy headteacher at Isambard Brunel Juniors, said: ‘It’s great. As a city we need to raise the expectations of all of our children in terms of literacy levels. This can help do that. The children can see a purpose for their reading and for sport.’
Children took part in workshops where they discussed what their dream job would be and who their role models are.
Dan said: ‘For an author you spend a lot of time sitting and writing by yourself.
‘To see it come to life and to see a massive football club with the community work that Portsmouth does to take ownership of the book and understand the messages that are in there makes me feel incredibly proud.
‘We are talking about inspiring the kids, but it inspires me massively too.’
Pupil Bradley Bateman, nine, said: ‘It’s good. It’s a nice book to read because it’s about football and the dreams that could come true.
‘It tells you about a boy who wanted to become a footballer. I’m looking forward to reading it.’
Pupils will now take part in two competitions to win a pair of season tickets at Pompey by taking photos of them reading their books in unusual places, and by writing an inspirational message for footballers.