Carrick Academy pupils are getting ready to hit the streets of Maybole on Friday 8 June to watch 12-year-old football sensation Ryan Speirs carry the Olympic Torch through his home town.
The first year pupil is one of the youngest people to carry the Olympic Torch in the UK, but he’s not daunted by the fact that the world’s eyes will be on him as he runs with the Torch through the streets of Maybole around 9am on 8 June. Ryan, who plays for Ayr United’s Under 13s team, and is also a key scorer with Carrick Academy’s Under 13s football team, is taking the whole experience in his stride.
Ryan will be handed the Olympic Torch right outside his school at the entrance to Maybole, and the entire school is planning on lining the streets of the town to support him.
Since starting Carrick Academy last August, Ryan has excelled in sports, winning the school’s Junior Sports Championship this month, being part of the school’s Under 13s football team which won the Ayrshire and District Championship this year and also winning a cross-country championship. He is regarded as a first class student who is well liked by fellow pupils, is committed to being a positive role model to others, and has achieved high scores in the school’s good behaviour merit system. His fellow pupils recently voted him ‘Pupil of the Block’ for his efforts in his PE class.
Ryan lives in Maybole with his Mum Hayley, Dad Paul and his three brothers – Jordan, 14; Grant, 10, and one-year-old Scott. He was nominated to carry the Olympic Torch through the Get Set Network which was searching for school Torchbearers who personified the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect, and who had shown great personal achievement and contribution to the life of their school or community.
Delighted at becoming a Torchbearer, Ryan says: “I love the Olympics. I’m good at sport, I work hard and behave in class and I will be honoured to represent Carrick Academy.”
His PE teacher Michael Wright added: “Ryan has shown outstanding commitment to Carrick Academy in his short time with us. He has an infectious enthusiasm towards school life and, in particular, sport. Ryan has been excellent for our Under 13s football team, scoring 10 goals so far this year. He uses his own initiative to help others improve and is very popular amongst his peers. The whole school is gearing up to line the streets of Maybole to see Ryan carry the Olympic Torch.”
Ryan joined Ayr United’s Under 13s team a year ago and endures rigorous training three nights a week, playing for the team throughout Scotland each Sunday.
His Mum says he simply loves playing football.
“His life is just football,” admits Hayley Speirs. “Ryan trains with Ayr United every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening and plays for them on a Sunday. They play all over Scotland, so he often has early morning starts and sometimes is not back until late into the evening. He never complains about that side of it – he just loves playing. Jordan plays football for Ayrshire Juniors and Grant plays for Carrick Colts in Maybole. The boys all love playing football. We are really proud of Ryan for being chosen to carry the Torch – when Mr Wright phoned us to say that he had been selected we were totally over the moon.”
It was Dad Paul who introduced Ryan and his brothers to football – Paul tried for Scotland’s Under 18s team in his teens.
“My Dad got me into football,” says Ryan. “When I was five he asked me if I wanted to try to play with a team but I didn’t want to at that point. But when I was six I decided to have a go – I’m glad I did. I hope to be a professional footballer one day.”
Ryan’s grandfather Sam Campbell, from Maybole, has pledged to buy the Torch Ryan will carry on 8 June as a keepsake for him. Family are also coming up from England and from all over South Ayrshire to see him run with the Torch through the town.
“Mum and Dad are really happy for me,” says Ryan. “My Papa is buying the Torch for me to keep too. It will be passed to me right outside the school, which is great.
“I’m planning on just enjoying the moment.”