Football-mad Rio Cookson has dedicated over 100 hours volunteering with Fleetwood Town Community Trust, overcoming physical challenges along the way.
Fifteen-year-old Rio has dyslexia, dyspraxia, and auditory processing difficulties, and has been a participant in multiple programmes run by the Community Trust over the past six years, including projects such as MultiStars, a sporting initiative for young people with various disabilities supported by Wyre Council as part of TrySport.
Rio found the support through the MultiStars programme invaluable and it really helped his confidence, which inspired him to want to give something back to the community, as well as getting involved in a sport he loves.
Cardinal Allen student Rio has a great interest in football and supports the Cod Army up and down the country, particularly his favourite player, Wes Burns. Unfortunately, his disabilities mean he struggles to play football, but the Community Trust found a way for him to get involved in his favourite sport in a different way.
For the last 12 months, Rio has been working alongside professional coaches, volunteering on Trysport, Dodgeball and Premier League Kicks football across Fleetwood, an experience which he has loved from start to finish.
“Volunteering has helped me get into sport, especially football, which I thought wouldn’t happen because of my problems,” said Rio. “Working alongside professional coaches has allowed me to see that I can achieve, learn and develop new skills, and I would like to thank everyone for the opportunity.”
Josh Handley, Community Engagement Officer, said: “Rio has been an incredible inspiration to all those he has worked with through Premier League Kicks, Dodgeball and TrySport. He has dedicated over 100 hours volunteering and is always wanting to better himself, which highlights his aspiration and the young man he is becoming.
“The Community Trust would like to thank Rio for all of his hard work over the past 12 months of volunteering, and we look forward to seeing how his journey progresses as community projects begin to resume following the recent pandemic.”
Neil Cookson, Rio’s Dad, added: “Rio has a great footballing brain, and it’s difficult knowing that I won’t get to watch my son play for a team because of his disabilities. I’m delighted that the Community Trust has provided him with this opportunity which has helped him achieve some goals in his life. Even though he is the same age as some of the lads he helps coach, they have shown respect towards him and he has learned a lot working with some great coaches.
“I’m thrilled that Rio’s involved with Fleetwood Town, as his Grandad played for the club years ago and is part of the Former Players Association. I even played for the reserves once, so the club holds a special place in our hearts.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him, and the support through the Community Trust has been just perfect.”
Click HERE to read more about volunteering opportunities with Fleetwood Town Community Trust.