On Saturday 11th April, for one afternoon only, the Royals first team will walk out wearing a specially designed shirt, inspired by a 14-year-old Reading fan named Ryan Duval, who attends The Avenue School Special Needs Academy in Tilehurst.
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.
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 the project he explained he would like to embark on was designing a new football strip which matches that of his school’s colours. This is where #RyansRoyals began…
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.
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.