Child of Courage nominee – Reuben Duff
The managers of Reuben Duff’s football team say he is one of the bravest children they’ve ever met.
The eight-year-old was overwhelmed and couldn’t even kick a ball when he first joined Doveridge Under-8s and his coach wasn’t sure he would ever be able to play a match.
But Reuben, who has an ADHD diagnosis and is awaiting a second diagnosis, is now not only a regular member of the team he received an award for being the most improved player.
Reuben, from Uttoxeter, has been nominated as a Child of Courage in the Your Heroes Awards by Danielle Rigby from the team.
She said: “Reuben came to Doveridge under-8s in June 2022. He was very shy. He hadn’t played football before and hadn’t met many of the team before.
“Having the pleasure of seeing Reuben being one of the bravest children we have had the pleasure of meeting has been amazing.
“He began overwhelmed on pitches and being happy on the sidelines to requesting more game time and being one of our most improved players.
“He is such a positive influence on our team and cheers and celebrates every success we as a team have. Reuben has made the best group of friends and enjoys training twice a week as well as games once a week. Something that we thought may not be a possibility.
“He truly is an inspiration and the courage he shows week in and out is amazing. We want to nominate Reuben as he shows courage every day doing tasks we all take for granted and we want him to know we think he is so brave.
“Our team is all the better for Reuben, the courage he shows the children and the bond they have all made.”
Reuben’s mum, primary school teacher Sharon Duff, said she first recognised neurodivergent traits in her son when he was aged around two years.
She said: “When Reuben first started with the team he didn’t know how to kick a ball. He was overwhelmed. He found it hard to collaborate with the other children and used to get complete sensory overload.
“He’s gone from being a little boy who used to stare into the sky while other children played to getting stuck in and being a team player.”
She praised the club and other parents for encouraging Reuben and welcoming him into the football family.
“It’s made a massive difference for Reuben,” she said. “It’s just absolutely heartwarming. As a parent all you ever want is to see your children happy and he is.”