Rosh Pinah footballer’s story scores with Premier League

West Ham Academy player Ari Rubenstein, nine, who wears a headband to protect his hearing aid, is handed award


The Premier League trophy was brought to Edgware’s Rosh Pinah Primary to celebrate the school’s own winner — nine-year-old Ari Rubenstein.

Ari, a member of the West Ham Academy squad, has won the league’s Young Academy Writer of the Year award for his story The Boy in the Headband, based on his own experience of wearing a headband when playing to protect his hearing aid.

West Ham representatives presented Ari with his prize at a special morning assembly led by TV presenter Naomi Wilkinson.

In a pre-recorded video, Ari said: “I look like a normal nine-year-old boy but I have my own superpowers. I can read lips without hearing a sound and I can see things that a lot of people don’t see.

“This is a power that lets me read the body language of my opposition and allows me to make it really tough for them. I might not have the best sense of hearing but I make up for it with all my other senses.”

He got to enjoy the sport he loved “with no one seeing the tiny machine that sits in my ear. The machine that allows me to hear what goes on around me; a machine that allows me to be judged for my football and not for what I don’t have, which is a very good ear.”

Rosh Pinah head Jill Howson said the school was “tremendously proud” of Ari. “When I was listening to his story, what really struck me was the fact that you forget that he has any hearing impairment at all.

“He’s a fantastic student and, obviously, a really talented footballer.
“He hasn’t let any impairment slow him down. He’s also inspired us all to read more and keep active.”

The award has been developed by children’s author Dan Freedman, who is best known for his football-based book series Jamie Johnson, which has been adapted for a long-running show on the BBC.

“Ari’s story submission was exactly what we were looking for and why I created the award,” Freedman told the JC.

The Boy in the Headband was “the perfect crossover of football, courageousnessand good storytelling.

“Ari himself embodies it perfectly.”

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