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'I have started to express myself thanks to West Ham'

28 Feb 2017
Premier League/BT Disability Fund, West Ham United, Hakeem Ranger, 240217

Hakeem Ranger's personality has transformed with help of West Ham United Foundation's disability programme

Hakeem Ranger's learning difficulties meant he struggled with forming relationships, especially within his own family.

"I had troubles with my mother," he says. "It affected me by not speaking to them and I found it quite difficult to get along with teachers and students." 

Subtitles version | Audio description version

Hakeem, 25, was encouraged to play more football to address these issues.

Over a year ago, he started attending disability sessions run by the West Ham United Foundation, whose Football Skill programme helps people to overcome shyness and a lack of confidence.

"They gave me the opportunity to express myself so I wanted to get more involved in this foundation as much as I can," Hakeem says.

The programme has transformed Hakeem and he has thrived to the extent that he has become a mentor on the initiative, helping and inspiring others to get involved.

Premier League/BT Disability Fund, West Ham United, Hakeem Ranger, 240217
Hakeem is now a mentor for the West Ham United Foundation, encouraging and inspiring other participants on the programme

"A lot of things did involve trouble but I do the best I can to stay away from that by getting more involved in something I love doing most - and more than anything in the world."

And Hakeem's influence is rubbing off on the young people he coaches.

"He brings out the best in people, so when we're doing a shooting drill and someone misses he encourages them," says participant Michael Grover.

Premier League/BT Disability Fund, West Ham United, Winston Reid
West Ham United defender Winston Reid came down to watch the coaching session

West Ham defender Winston Reid visited a disability session to hear Hakeem's story and see the work of the new Premier League/BT Disability Sport Programme, which will aim to provide many more stories like Hakeem's.

"The programme will enable us to drill down what our vision is here, to enable young people to come and really express themselves," said West Ham United Foundation chief executive Joseph Lyons.

"This is giving us is the springboard, the resource, to achieve that vision."

See: Reid - It's good to see them enjoy themselves

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