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Published April 12, 2023

Foundation Fixture | Ruben’s Story

As part of the build up to the Club’s dedicated Foundation Fixture, the Foundation is highlighting the stories of participants from across our programmes. This week, we are focusing on Ruben Rhodes, a participant of both our youth disability programme and Player Development Centre.

Ruben, aged 7, has sensory processing difficulties and a spectrum disorder, making a mainstream football environment a challenging one for him to navigate.

“Physically he’s able in every kind of way, but mentally he really struggles,” Ruben’s mum Louise said, speaking at the Foundation’s youth disability multi-sport camp last week.

“He started when he was about five, and I remember at his first session he was clinging on to my leg, he didn’t really want to go in.

“It probably took him a good year to really feel comfortable but the support that he had in that year was just incredible because he really found the training difficult, he found lots of people difficult, but the coaches, parents and children were just incredible.

“It’s his group, it’s his happy place, it’s where he feels comfortable.”

Ruben has found confidence from the support given to him at the youth disability sessions. This confidence has led to him attending Soccer Schools, then progressing into the Foundation’s Player Development Centre, a more mainstream football environment.

“Seeing him playing with children his age, like a normal child just enjoying football and supporting his Club – he loves Ipswich!

“It makes us so proud because this is his happy place, and it’s mine too because I can sit back, I don’t have to worry, I don’t have to feel anxious and think about how he’s going to react. He just loves it now and I feel so relaxed.

“Leanne [Smith, Community Engagement Officer] and the coaches have been incredible,” Louise added. “They just really understand Ru, and he wouldn’t have made it to the PDC without them.

“They’ve been so supportive of him and understood when he was struggling.

“What the players and the coaches have done is not just support his physical ability but his mental health as well.”

The Club’s annual Foundation Fixture will take place on Saturday, 15 April for the home match with Charlton Athletic.

Foundation Fixture aims to raise awareness of the work Ipswich Town Foundation carries out in the community, whilst also providing a fundraising opportunity to allow the Foundation to continue to grow and make increased positive impact in the community.

As part of the event, supporters are encouraged to donate to the Foundation to help to improve and further grow the work carried out to support the community across the region. On the day, fans will be able to donate to the Foundation inside and around the ground through bucket collections which will include contactless devices for those looking to donate by card.