Scott Hogan might be used to answering questions from journalists but he faced an interview of a different kind on Tuesday as he met members of the Griffin Park Learning Zone’s Short Breaks After School Club.
The six children, aged between six and ten, most of whom are on the autistic spectrum, quizzed The Bees’ top scorer on his life and career as a footballer, which Scott was more than happy to answer. Among the things the youngsters gleaned from Scott were that his hero growing up was Eric Cantona, his favourite colour is red, and that he likes Mexican food. Scott also signed pictures that the group from Grove Road Primary School had drawn of him.
After signing the pictures, Scott turned the tables and asked some of the youngsters questions about themselves and their time with the Short Breaks project before posing for photographs with the group.
One of the group, nine-year-old Damien, said: “It was amazing to meet him. We were able to ask him questions about his life and football. It is fun to come here as it helps me to learn to listen. The best thing about coming here is meeting Scott as he was very kind.”
Scott, who has 11 goals to his name in the Sky Bet Championship already this season, added: “They are great kids and I was happy to do it. It put a smile on their faces and, if you can do that, you have to do it. You are someone that they look up to and they are excited to see you and that is a nice feeling. I know that I am lucky but there are some that aren’t so fortunate. If I can make a difference then that’s brilliant.”
The Short Breaks project, funded by the London Borough of Hounslow, and run through the Griffin Park Learning Zone provides a space for children with autism and other young people with disabilities to learn new skills in the unique environment of a football stadium.
Ghausia, who coordinates the project, said: “The Short Breaks After School club provides new experiences and opportunities outside of the school and home environment. Grove Road Primary School and London Borough of Hounslow are great partners in supporting this programme. Footballers are in a unique position to positively impact young people. Just meeting Scott the children were speaking and smiling more: they reacted really well to him because of how he interacted with them and that created a real buzz during the session.”
Jo Dawson, Short Breaks co-ordinator at the London Borough of Hounslow, said: “Short Breaks have developed a very successful partnership with both the GPLZ and Brentford FC Community Sports Trust over the last five years. Together we have developed a programme for disabled children and young people that is responsive to the community need and enjoyed by many.”
Rachel Howard, SENCo at Grove Road Primary School said: "Griffin Park Learning Zone provide an amazing opportunity for our pupils with complex needs. They are able to access an exciting after school club due to the generosity and hard work of the GPLZ staff. Most importantly the children come back to school buzzing about the wonderful experiences they are having and can't wait for the next session."
For more information about the work of the Griffin Park Learning Zone click here