Oscar is thinking about what he wants to do in the future. The 30 year old says, “My goal is to work in mental health for the NHS because I like working with autistic and dyslexic people and knowing I’m trying to do something to make things easier for them.”
It’s great to hear about his ambition, particularly as he has dyslexia and struggles with reading and writing.
A year ago, the team was brought together by Autism Hounslow, which tackles isolation and makes sure people with and without learning disabilities can take part in leisure activities and find work opportunities.
Now the Lions train every Monday night and for Oscar and his team-mate Jordan Duncan, 29, being part of a football team has given them a voice, a chance to learn new skills and the opportunity to form close friendships.
“We all have good days and bad days, but no matter what’s happening I try to come to training and I encourage the team to come and have fun,” says Oscar.
“It makes me proud, because it shows you can achieve if you put your mind to it. People might say: ‘You can’t do that, you’re dyslexic,’ but it’s about proving them wrong.”
And he certainly does prove people wrong. Oscar is the man who came up with the team name and also designed their logo and kit.
So why did he choose to call Autism Hounslow’s football squad the Lions? “Because Lions roar,” he says. “And we want a voice in this world. We might have our problems, but we can speak for ourselves.”
Their dedication is paying off as their trophy cabinet is already filling up after just a year together.
Each player has a different skill to offer and being part of the Hounslow Lions has seen them grow.
“We’re one big happy family; we take care of each other,” says Jordan.
“I used to be really shy and I didn’t know how to express myself. Being a Lion has given me more confidence. I’ve made new friends and it’s helped me understand other people’s disabilities. Now I’m about to start a music course.”
He adds, “If Hounslow Lions wasn’t around, we would be bored at home. This team is helping us step out into the world and say: ‘I can do this’.
"I’ve made friends in the team and now I see how to cope with different challenges. We may not be the best players, but we stick at what we do and stay strong. Win or lose, none of that matters as long as we stick together.”
Thanks to funds raised through The Health Lottery, the Hounslow Lions have all the equipment they need to train.
“Support from money raised through The Health Lottery is showing belief by investing in our community long-term,” says the club’s mentor David Roughan, 43.
“Everything we have has come from that little pot of gold that funds us. Football can be an expensive sport, so this funding is vital.
“Where we used to play in a dark car park, now we can afford to train on a floodlit pitch. These guys deserve the right kit so they feel professional. They all have neurodiversity on their side and they all have qualities every football team needs.”
Hounslow Lions Factfile
Founded by Autism Hounslow
Tackling isolation with weekly football training sessions and social events
Grant of £16,950 for a two-year project from money raised through Health Lottery London West