The Premier League Kicks project has helped create huge opportunity for young people across South Wales since 2013. One of the many inspiring stories to emerge from the programme, which uses the inspiration of the Premier League and Cardiff City FC to connect with young people in high need areas, is that of 12-year-old Callum Gyde.

Callum had a tough time as a child; he was kicked out of school when he was just five years old for being disruptive. It turns out Callum had a part of his brain missing, suffered from focal epilepsy and has recently diagnosed with autism.

Margret - Callum's Mum - has been bringing him to the Caerphilly sessions for just over 12 months, and she has seen a huge development in his social skills in and out of school time.  

“He (Callum) absolutely loves Premier League Kicks, it’s one of the best things for the area and for him – especially with his disabilities. It’s keeping him fit and healthy and makes him feel like part of a team, he’s never judged by anyone as he has been in the past.”

The Cardiff City FC brand has been one of the main reasons for Callum attending the project, and is outlined by his attire - wearing his Cardiff City kit with his favourite player's number on the back of his shirt. 

“He is a massive Cardiff City fan. With his name being Callum, he loves Callum Paterson. He’s got the shirt, the shorts, the socks and has met some of the players when we’ve been to matches as well. The club’s badge means a lot to him because he has never been made to feel a part of anything and has missed out on the school experience so this is something that is really important to him and it does mean a lot." 

Callum himself has also expressed his passion for football and the programme. "I really enjoy the Kicks sessions, I’ve been coming for about a year. The best thing about the sessions is scoring a goal, I love playing up-front. I love Callum Paterson because he has the same name as me, so I’ve got number 18 on the back of my shirt.

“I’ve started swimming at the same leisure centre that Kicks is held too. I swim on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s and I’ve been doing it for a couple of years and I’m up to stage seven now."

Callum's story is a perfect example of how the Foundation listen to the needs of participants at all 10 kicks sites to create a positive influence during every session.