Liam Cullen surprises PL Kicks coach and young carer Jesse

10th July

When Jesse Ormond started his involvement with Premier League Kicks as a respite from being a young carer, little could he have imagined it would be the start of a journey that would lead to him helping Swansea City AFC Foundation deliver the very sessions he had attended and being recognised as a community champion by Swans striker Liam Cullen.

The Kicks sessions initially allowed Jesse some valuable time for himself, having been a young carer for his mother Beverly, who is blind and required regular support and help with tasks at home, and when getting around outside the house.

Jesse took on those responsibilities without hesitation, but admits it was a help for him to know there was always an hour of football with his friends awaiting him at the end of each week.

“My mum has been visually impaired since I was very young, which has meant me and my sister have had to do our bit to help her when she needed it,” said Jesse.

“I had to do a lot more things when I was younger, simple things around the house really, as well as out of the house like having to guide her in public.

“At first it was a bit weird, but over time I’ve just gotten used to it and I don’t really think about it anymore.

“Kicks was definitely a distraction I needed at first. Straight after the pandemic my mum couldn’t risk catching Covid in case she got an infection to her eye, so it meant that I couldn’t get out the house much. 

"But Kicks gave me that extra bit of football every Friday and it’s been great for me.”

As Jesse continued to attend the sessions, he inquired about the opportunity to volunteer as a coach. He would begin volunteering in September 2023, supporting the younger participants at his session for the first hour before taking part in football in the second.

Jesse PL Kicks

From there, Jesse’s passion for coaching grew and he sought further chances to expand his knowledge and experience.

He soon began to coach his local side Hundleton at under-8s' level. Jesse would also enrol on a sports coaching course at Pembrokeshire College as he continues to pursue a career in coaching.

“I’ve been volunteering with Kicks for a year now, I’ve really enjoyed being able to give back to the community and learn new things,” said Jesse.

“I started coaching my local side right around the time I realised coaching was something that I wanted to do. 

“It’s been a great experience, I’ve learned so many new things from it and I can’t wait to learn more. I’ve seen a lot of development from the team, at first they couldn’t really kick a ball in a straight line but they are really coming along now.”

Jamie Bessant is the Foundation's lead Premier League Kicks coach at Pembroke, supporting Jesse as a participant and volunteer and helping guide him in his passion for football.

Bessant is delighted to see the progress that Jesse is making and thinks he has had a real impact on his local community.

“It’s been great to see him go from a participant to a volunteer, and now he’s a really important member of our coaching set up in Pembroke,” said Bessant.

“Jesse is fantastic, having that place for him to be able to escape from the pressures and the additional workload that he has as a young carer is crucial.

“He’s still of an age where he is able to participate, so he coaches the first hour and helps us with the sessions, and the second hour is his hour to have his freedom and go and play football.

“It’s clearly had a massive impact on Jesse, he’s spoken to the coaches a lot about what he should do and what avenues to go down for his coaching career, and now he’s going to go and study football coaching and performance at university.”

In January, Jesse's efforts were recognised when he was invited to the Stadium as part of the Foundation’s inaugural community matchday, where he was named a community hero and collected the award from head of foundation, Paul France.

Jesse Community Hero

To further celebrate Jesse’s journey, he was invited to Swansea City’s Fairwood Training Ground at the end of the 2023-24 campaign. 

Jesse had been invited to the men's first-team facility to to present fellow Pembrokeshire native Cullen with his PFA Community Champion award, but was given a surprise when the forward presented him with a signed shirt.

“It was a surprise to be honest, I had no idea I was going to receive it so it was a bit of a shock,” said Jesse.

“It was great to be honest. Just to meet Liam and some of the other players, as well as watching training, it was quite surreal.”

Cullen was thrilled to see someone from his own hometown receive deserved recognition, and hopes he can serve as an inspiration for the community. 

“The community will always be a better place with people like Jesse,” said Cullen

“He sets the standard in and around the community, hopefully we can find more people like him supporting the community.

“He’s part of Kilgetty Football Club, my local team, so I’m really proud to have someone from there contributing to the place and a big well done to him.”