The Mighty Lions & the Big Match: What if We Don't Win?

The Mighty Lions & the Big Match: What if We Don't Win?

By Author / Illustrator

Tom Chapman, Chris Dickason


Picture Books

Age range(s)



Welbeck Publishing Group








Abel, his brother Drake and the rest of the Mighty Lions have made it to the final match against the Tigers. They know they have to win the cup, especially as it is expected of them. But with the stakes getting higher as the game progresses, it becomes too much for the young footballers and they crack under the pressure. They lose the match and are disappointed that they've let everyone down. Worse, they are worried they've completely failed. But Mum and Dad Lion have some important words for their young cubs: that losing one match doesn't make them failures.

This important picture book portrays the incredible pressure that kids - and especially boys - can face on the sports pitch, and discusses how learning from failure can only make you stronger.  Tom Chapman is the charismatic founder of The Lions Barber Collective, a charity that promotes suicide prevention and awareness, which focusses on men's and boys' mental health.



Children often feel the pressure to perform in large parts of their lives - from social circles, to school and even the sports field. Children are even more sensitive to the particular pressures placed upon them from their parents and other adults. The sense of letting a role model down is a battle many children face on daily basis and can have a significant impact on their social and emotional development. In this football themed book, The Mighty Lions and the Big Match,  Tom Chapman helps young children realise that even in the face of disappointment, support and love can still be found.

This text is particularly focused on the pressures boys can feel on the sports pitch and goes a long way in supporting the mental health of those who are reading and who can relate to the young lions within the text. Abel and his brother Drake are part of the Mighty Lions football team who have work their way to the cup final. Pressure and expectation are building with the coach, parents and fans all expecting the footballers to perform highly. As the match kicks off, the nerves begin to get the better of Abel and he finds himself making mistakes. His brother Drake however, seems to be repelling everything the opposition throw at him. The match is end to end and ultimately, the fate of the final is in young Abel's hands...or feet. How will he cope with the growing pressure and expectation from everyone around him?

Tom Chapman, who is an advocate of men's' mental health, has created an easily accessible text to share with even the youngest readers. The message of coping with pressures and expectations is clear and is even a handy text for adults to read and to consider. The text is accompanied by the wonderful work of illustrator Chris Dickason who's sharp, graphic design is eye catching and charming.

Men's and boys' mental health has come to the forefront of everyone's attention in recent years with action being taking to encourage males of all age to speak openly and freely about their emotions. This debut text would be an excellent addition to school PHSE libraries as a pathway into these discussions.

Picture book / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 3+


Other titles