Skip to main content Skip to site footer

How Reading FC changed Oliver’s life

19 January 2023

Reading FC fan and Step 2 Success participant, Oliver, was given a special surprise by Paul and Tom Ince as part of the EFL Week of Action.

As part of the EFL’s Week of Action, Reading manager Paul Ince and his son - midfielder Tom Ince - surprised 15-year-old Royals supporter and Community Trust participant, Oliver Lincoln, giving him a day he will never forget. 

“It’s just been the best day,” says Oliver. “I wasn’t in a great space but I was so lucky to get the opportunity to join Reading Community Trust and I wish others could have the opportunity I had.”

After a prolonged absence from school due to medical needs and mental health issues, Oliver struggled with his education. Having being diagnosed with epilepsy and a chronic sleeping disorder, he suffered numerous negative education experiences and didn’t get the level of support he needed. 

“When he was little he had a number of medical issues which meant that his life was different to the other kids,” explains Anna, Oliver’s mum.  “Access to education was tough and he really struggled. 

“He came home one day and said to me, ‘mum, they’ve given up on me so I’m giving up on myself’ and that was awful to hear. I was lost with him, I didn’t know where to go and I was frightened for his wellbeing. That’s when we found out about the Step 2 Success programme.”


'Step 2 Success' is a programme run by Reading Community Trust, which uses the appeal of Reading Football Club to support eight to 16-year-olds who are marginalised or at risk of not reaching their potential. The programme supports them as they move through the education system to early adulthood, using a tailored approach to help develop life skills and positive attitudes, as well as increasing their overall school attendance percentage. 

After progressing from Step 2 Success, Oliver moved onto the Reading FC Alternative Provision (RAP) programme, an initiative that supports students experiencing difficulties in school. Every RAP student is given a mentor who supports them in daily life as well as help improve their learning and mental wellbeing. 

The aim is to get students back on track and back into mainstream school with the right support.  

“This has turned his life around, there’s no doubt about it,” Anna added. 

As part of the EFL’s annual Week of Action, Oliver was invited by Reading to enjoy a stadium tour, before being surprised by his favourite player, Tom Ince. 

After enjoying a kick-about with Ince, Oliver was invited to see the first-team dressing room, where manager Paul Ince was also waiting to surprise him. 

shutterstock_editorial_13713646bc (1).jpg

The Reading manager spoke of the important role football continues to play in local communities. 

“It’s about giving back to community,” Ince says. “It’s so important, football can be such a platform. Ollie is a wonderful lad, he loves Reading, he loves football and I’m privileged to have helped give him a day he’ll never forget. 

“Sometimes we get carried away with the importance of the football, but it’s not always about winning or losing. With all the work Reading Community Trust do on a daily basis, we shouldn’t get carried away with the football.

“We’d love to offer this opportunity to every kid, but that’s not always possible, so if we can make a difference to just one and help change their life then it’s something.”

Midfielder Tom Ince added: “It’s always important to do something for the community. It was a pleasure to bring him down to the stadium, kick a ball about with him and get to know him as a person, that’s the most important thing. 

“He’s had a tough time and hopefully I’ve helped inspire him to go on and try to do what he wants to do in life.”

Launched in 2017, the EFL Week of Action is an annual League-wide celebration of the work done by EFL Clubs and their Club Community Organisations (CCOs) in their respective areas.

Each year, all 72 EFL Clubs come together to demonstrate the impact that football has in positively changing people lives, joining participants in a range of community topics up and down the country. 

Advertisement block