Project Description

Apologies for the months of silence – it’s been all systems go at Ultimate Football Heroes HQ! As well as writing lots of exciting new books for the series, I’ve been travelling all over the UK, spreading the word about football, reading and writing.

In my role as Patron of Reading at Upminster Junior School, I ran a six-week writing project with a great Year 5 group. The 23 boys were all football-mad and identified as ‘reluctant readers’ and writers. Our challenge was to write a whole book together in the space of six, 2-hour sessions. Not exactly mission impossible but certainly a mission. Here’s how we got on.

Week One – Choosing Our Hero

I started by getting the boys familiar with the concept of the children’s football biography. In particular, we talked about 3 key aspects:

  1. Facts
  2. Stories
  3. Messages

As a starter exercise, the boys looked at four different messages (Bouncing Back from Setbacks, Learning from Mistakes, Adapting to New Experiences & Teamwork) in four different books (Bale, Giggs, Hazard & Agüero).

After that bit of background, it was time to choose our hero to write about! I ruled out all of the footballers already in the Ultimate Football Heroes series, and then asked them to think about 3 criteria:

  1. Popularity
  2. Interesting Lives
  3. Target Audience

Following much debate, the votes were cast and the winner was declared…ROBERTO CARLOS!

Week Two – Structure & Stories

Now that we had our football hero, what were we going to write about him? As a starter exercise, the boys looked at the chronology and structure of our books:

The Journey

So, what would we need to learn about Roberto Carlos?

Roberto Carlos 1

Once I had given each of the 23 boys a different story to work on, we then talked about research, and where to look:

Superstar Research

Week Three – Research & Planning

Our third session took place in the school’s computer room. I gave each of the boys a list of relevant articles to read and videos to watch. They were told to look for interesting information that was useful for their particular chapter. Once they found something, they made notes.

In the second hour, we talked about the importance of planning. How could we turn our notes into a piece of writing that was fun and interesting to read?

Week Four – Planning & Writing

It was almost time for the main event. But first, as a starter exercise, the boys looked at chapters from of our books and tried to find examples of three key ideas:

  1. Setting
  2. Emotion
  3. Dialogue

These ideas were then placed into a bigger story structure:

Story Structure

In the second hour, the boys finished off their plans and started writing.

Week Five – Writing, Video, Writing!

To keep the boys engaged, we wrote in six bursts of creativity, one for each step of the story structure. In between each one, we watched a short video about Roberto Carlos – his goals, his trophies, his life. The plan worked a treat! We were almost there…

Week Six – Editing & Final Details

The final session was all about polishing, and finalising details about the book. In the first hour, we did some redrafting, thinking about 5 key areas:

  1. Punctuation
  2. Spelling
  3. Better Adjectives
  4. Dialogue
  5. Story Structure


Once everyone was happy with their chapters, we moved on to the fun final part – the cover design. I asked the boys to think about 3 key aspects of the front cover:

  1. Colour 
  2. Title
  3. Image

Following much debate, the boys selected a green and yellow colour scheme to reflect Roberto Carlos’ Brazil career and to make the book look nice and bright. They then decided on the title, ‘Roberto Carlos: The Free-Kick King’ to tell the readers about his key attribute. For the images, the boys chose to go with two, rather than one, because of his success with Real Madrid as well as Brazil.

Roberto Carlos 2

And that was that – the end of a very successful and enjoyable six-week project. For more details, please email me at [email protected]