#RyansRoyals reaction in their own wordsClub captain Jem Karacan has followed this process from start to finish, providing the spark that set the ball rolling on making Ryan’s kit a reality whilst visiting The Avenue School to visit Ryan and his schoolmates on countless occasions during the last four months.
As part of the project Jem also recorded a special video message for Ryan to invite him down to Madejski Stadium to meet the team from Puma, saying “It was lovely to come down to meet you, your friends and your teachers the other day. I saw the design of your kit and I absolutely loved it, I showed a few of the boys and they thought the same. So we’ve spoken to a few of our friends down at Puma, who design kits for a living, and they wondered if you wanted to come down to the stadium to see how they do things?”
And Jem was even announced as a special surprise guest at the school assembly recently which saw the midfielder announce our plans for the players to actually wear his kit for a first team game and then he unveiled the shirt itself to let all the pupils to get the first peek!
“Ryan is a young lad a few of us met a couple of months ago on a visit to a local school and, meeting him, his schoolmates and his family, his story really touched our hearts,” said Karacan.
“To learn what Ryan is going through, it was so nice in the first instance to go to his school and put a smile on his and his classmates’ faces. He’s a massive Reading fan and you could see how happy he was to see the boys when Anton, Coxy and myself first went down to the school to see him.
“The staff are doing great things down at The Avenue School. The job that they do on a daily basis is incredible and the hard work that is put in to give these young boys and girls both education and enjoyment in their lives is second to none.
“Sometimes, you don’t realise the effect that a short visit to a school like The Avenue can have on kids like Ryan’s lives and it has been a real pleasure to be a part of it. It’s crazy how much they all love football and how much they love Reading, so if we can bring a bit of enjoyment into their lives just by popping down and saying hello, that’s the least we can do.
“We’re a community club and since I’ve been out injured I’ve been to a number of different schemes and really seen what goes on. So much good work is done within the community and long may that continue in Reading.
“And ever since that first trip to see Ryan, people at the club have worked so hard to develop this into a community project like no other in our history. As a club and as a town, I think this will be something people will be very proud of.”
Co-Chairman Sir John Madejski agreed entirely, saying “Community is at our club’s very heartbeat. It has been ever since I became Chairman almost 25 years ago and we will continue to treasure our connection with the people of Reading, the firm bond we have developed with our local community.”
“Ryan is an inspirational young man and I am delighted we have been able to make this happen for a young fan who deserves a special day at Madejski Stadium,” he continued. “Community projects like this and young supporters like Ryan make me exceptionally proud to be Co-Chairman of Reading Football Club.”
And we were delighted to include our official supporters’ trust in the project. STAR’s Paula Martin said, “When we heard about #RyansRoyals we were so impressed that Ryan could be so involved in the club. It must be an amazing experience and we are delighted for him. STAR is fully behind the idea and congratulates Reading FC for making it happen.”
Symon Cook, Deputy Head at The Avenue School, said “When we first talked about this project, the aim was to provide one individual with an exciting opportunity that would raise a smile and enrich his life for a short period.
“Just to produce one kit from Ryan's design would have been amazing. This project has now become enormous and has already had a hugely positive impact far beyond Ryan himself.
“Through the incredible work of Reading Football Club, and various other key players, this project has managed to excite, enthuse and energise Ryan, his family and his friends at the school. It has created such a buzz at The Avenue School, creating memories that will live with us all for a very, very long time.
“Football often receives a ‘bad press’ but this initiative has shown that football is a wonderful vehicle for making positive things happen and fulfilling dreams. Ryan is a lad of very few words but, through that huge smile, the excitement and amazement is obvious to all. It is a phenomenal privilege to be involved in a piece of footballing history.
“I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Jem Karacan, his teammates and the staff at the club who have help to get this project off the ground, especially Dara Thomas and Adam Benson. Their vision, passion and commitment has been truly inspiring. I would also like to thank Puma, Genesis, Waitrose, Sky Sports, The Football League and the Football Association for their incredible generosity and support in developing this ‘once in a lifetime’ experience for Ryan, all those connected with him and The Avenue School.”
Of course none of this would have been possible without the permission of the Football League, the FA and the hard work put in by Puma who have not only produced this bespoke design, but who have also themselves visited Ryan to include him in the full process of kit manufacture and even allowed Sky Sports’ cameras into their warehouse to watch the shirts being made.
The whole #RyansRoyals project was followed by the Sky Sports cameras and you’ll be able to see the full story of the scheme played out in a Sky Sports News feature being broadcast all day today. Our thanks go to Sky for supporting the story from start to finish.