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Palace Academy Players Meet Author Dan Freedman for Inspiring Talk

15 November 2018

On Wednesday night, the Crystal Palace Under-9s, 10s and 11s collected at Selhurst Park to meet renowned 'Jamie Johnson' author Dan Freedman as part of their wider education through the academy.

Aiming to broaden the young players' experiences and horizons, the club hosted the event with Dan to engagingly show the boys the wider benefits of football and about other career paths that exist within and because of the game.

Dan discussed his own impressive journey to becoming a best-selling children's author and wowed the academy with his stories about meeting Ronaldo and Steven Gerrard and creating the hit character Jamie Johnson with experiences from his own life growing up as a football fanatic.

"Today is about meeting Palace's young players, who I call the 'real Jamie Johnsons'," he said. "They've got a fantastic opportunity with their football, but we also want to make sure that their time is really well spent when they're at the club so that, whatever happens football-wise, they leave broader people.

"Today, we've been talking about reading and writing; expressing yourself, as well as careers within the game other than what's on the pitch. It's a brilliant, lively bunch, full of questions, ideas and enthusiasm and that's just what the club wants and what I want as an author coming to meet the young people."

Speaking about what inspired him to drop hopes of a career on the pitch and replace them with aspirations for one behind the keyboard, Dan explained that there had always been something lacking for children who grew up like him and that it was his mission to change that.

"I found out there weren't proper kids novels about football. When I say 'proper' I mean substantial stories about life and about gritty and difficult obstacles and issues. I realised that those were also the kind of books that I was missing when I was at school because I felt that reading wasn't for me, but football was.

"Jamie Johnson is a character who has got incredible football abilities but also difficulties in his life.

"It's come full circle in a way because I was the kid who loved football but hated reading and now I love reading. To turn it on its head and try to use football to engage kids who were like I was is great."

Having spent over an hour with the academy players, Dan said, "I think Palace can look ahead to the future with great hope and so can these young men, whether that's on the pitch for Palace, elsewhere in football or in other careers that they have."

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