Olivier Carrick has been such an inspiration to his mentors and fellow students his dedication has been immortalised in a comic strip illustration.
Oliver, 19, has been named as the Premier League Kicks Hero for Wigan Athletic and has received his personalised artwork designed by Marvel and DC Comics artist John McCrea to celebrate 10 years of the programme.
Premier League Kicks is a youth outreach programme with the aim to create safer, stronger and more respectful communities through the development of young peoples’ potential, whilst giving young people access to facilities, coaching and mentoring.
In its first decade, Premier League Kicks has engaged more than 180,000 young people in weekly football, sport and personal development sessions held at local community venues across the UK. A total of 68 Premier League, English Football League and National League clubs now run the programme.
Oliver started his journey with Kicks by attending his first session at Hag Fold in 2008.
Oliver always showed great commitment and dedication by volunteering at Kicks sessions and would often turn up early to help staff set up.
Kicks allowed Oliver to come out of his shell and provided a safe place during difficult times at home.
He enrolled on a part-time BTEC with the Wigan Athletic Community Trust (WACT) and was later offered a full-time apprenticeship where he was able to combine education with volunteering.
Oliver is now enrolled on the Trust University of South Wales Foundation degree as well as supporting staff on Kicks delivery across Wigan and encouraging young people to follow in his footsteps.
The drawing shows Oliver receiving the news that he has been awarded a full-time apprenticeship with WACT in recognition of his hard-work.
Oliver said: “I feel very proud to be nominated.
“I loved attending and volunteering and the programme has really helped me to develop my confidence.
“I’m really grateful to all the staff who have supported me along the way and I hope my story can inspire other young people to work hard and follow in my footsteps.”
Tom Flower, Head of Community at Wigan Athletic, said: “We’re so proud of Oliver. It’s great to see his development from a shy Kicks participant to a member of staff for the Community Trust.
“Oliver has always showed a great commitment to Kicks and we all see a very bright future for him as coach.
“He’s a fantastic role model.”