Ryan Duval is a Reading fan who goes to school at The Avenue School Special Needs Academy in Tilehurst, #RyansRoyals is the culmination of an epic community project.
As described by the official site:
Ryan has been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative condition which means he has relied upon the use of an electric wheelchair to go about all his daily activities for a number of years.
He finds it increasingly difficult to physically cope with the condition and maintain control over a range of movements which so many of us simply take for granted.
And, with Ryan finding it difficult to access the regular school curriculum and set personal educational targets, The Avenue School helped him lay out a series of goals that would help motivate Ryan, build on his interests and enrich his life. They wanted Ryan to work on projects that would allow him to create a legacy.
So far, so tough, but not for much longer.
When first team stars Jem Karacan, Simon Cox and Anton Ferdinand visited The Avenue School to see a special memorial the pupils had made to commemorate the centenary of the World War I as part of the Football Remembers initiative back in December, Ryan made a very big impression.
Inspired by his story, his character and bravery, and impressed by the kit design that Ryan had drawn up for his school project, club captain Karacan suggested the club could look into turning his drawings into t-shirts for the first team to wear in his honour.
The club got to work and soon wheels were in motion. First team kit suppliers Puma heard about the concept and upon seeing Ryan’s artwork, they began to design some professional visuals of how the kit might look as a first team strip.
Little did Ryan know, but all this time plans were being finalised for his kit design to be made for the first team to wear in a Sky Bet Championship fixture this season.
On Thursday 12th March, all was revealed to Ryan and his classmates. Jem was announced as a surprise guest at the school’s assembly and he personally told Ryan that on Saturday 11th April, when his Reading team face Blackburn Rovers at home, the players would be wearing a one-off specially designed kit. His kit.
Photo credit: Reading FC
The shirt itself is in Royal blue and is based on the emblem of The Avenue School, featuring trees back and front that look not dissimilar to the Elm trees that formed a key part of the club’s previous crest.
Bearing the Reading badge on the front and The Avenue’s emblem on the back, the blue shirts will be accompanied by white shorts and blue socks, embodying a single hoop as a strip – and the club intend to auction the match-worn shirts after the Blackburn match with all proceeds helping to financially support the incredible work that goes on at The Avenue School.
Kudos must go to club captain Jem Karacan for setting the wheels in motion and to everyone involved in getting the project off the ground. A truly special community project that is just one example of why Reading are often in with a shout of winning Family Club Of The Year.
All that's left for us fellow Reading fans to do is to make sure we crank up the volume when Ryan takes to the pitch.