West Ham United fans are in for a treat this Christmas.
Penned by east Londoner, former Olympic athlete, journalist and children’s author Jeanette Kwakye, Billy and the Magic Ball is a bespoke tale based on Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.
To bring the short story to life, the Hammers first-team squad sat down to read it for a special video, which you can watch above and on the Club’s Official YouTube Channel right now!
“I thought it would be awesome to base the story on a classic, A Christmas Carol,” Kwakye explained. “Everyone loves that story and it’s so well known. So, the three characters are all based on footballers from the past present and future! and they are here to teach Billy a lesson about being the best he can!
“Hopefully the players enjoyed reading it! It was a good laugh filming with them and I hope the fans love it too!”
The three characters are all based on footballers from the past present and future, and they are here to teach Billy a lesson about being the best he can!
Kwakye’s journey to becoming a children’s author has been an eventful and, at times, very speedy one!
Born in Waltham Forest, the 34-year-old is a former British 100m champion who ran for Great Briton at the World Indoor Championships and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where she finished sixth.
A serious injury forced Kwakye off the track, however, and the Woodford Green with Essex Ladies athlete sadly missed the London 2012 Games in her home city.
Undeterred, the Loughborough University graduate embarked on a career in writing and broadcasting, covering West Ham for BBC London radio, while also working as a mentor for young athletes.
“Writing children’s books was certainly not something I thought about after athletics!” she smiled. “I was really keen on becoming a sports broadcaster, which I’m happy to say I’m actually doing! As a freelancer. I work for Sky Sports, BBC Sport and Channel 5.
“Athletics and football are my two main sports. Whilst at BBC London radio, West Ham was my assigned club to report on, as I live so local.
“My love for children’s writing only came about after I had my first son. I self-published a children’s book called Femi the Fox and I can’t believe how well it’s doing. That came about after some bath time stories!”
After the success of Femi the Fox, which is a tale teaching children about West African cooking and culture, using Femi the Fox and his friends, Kwakye jumped at the opportunity to link up with her local Premier League club this Christmas.
“I love football and have always been keen on West Ham, especially since I had to follow them week-in week-out for work. A good week for the club meant a happy press conference for me when asking questions!