Communities

Darragh and Liverpool inspiring others to play

14 Feb 2019

Discover how a boy with autism has developed into a mentor thanks to the Reds and the PL/BT Disability Fund

Darragh Smith had autism diagnosed when he was a toddler.

The Mersyside boy's condition meant that communicating and interacting with other people was not easy.

"It took him a while for him to be able to tell us what he wanted, what he needed," says Darragh's dad David.

"Probably one of the biggest things he needs to cope with is making new friends and meeting new people."

Four years ago, Darragh started playing football on Respect 4 All, the disability and inclusion programme run by the Liverpool Foundation which is funded by the Premier League & BT Disability Fund.

He quickly became a regular at the disability coaching sessions and such has been his development in terms of building confidence that he is now helping others coming through the programme.

"It's been great to see him progress over the years to turn into a more rounded footballer, not just on the pitch but off it as well," says Liam Kiziltan, a community coach with the Foundation.

"As he's got more used to the sessions and the participants, he's taken on a role almost as a peer mentor, making sure he is an example to the players around him."

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