Thursday 10 January 2013
Fulham captain Brede Hangeland helped inspire Year 5 and 6 pupils at a school in Wimbledon when he talked to them about the values of teamwork and leadership during a visit for the Premier League's Player Kit Scheme.
The 31-year-old Norway defender dropped by at St Mary's Catholic Primary School to give a set of shirts, shorts, socks, footballs, training bibs and cones to the boys' and girls' football teams.
The scheme, a joint initiative between the Premier League and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), involves the players of all 20 Barclays Premier League clubs donating £25,000 to the Scheme to create a £500,000 fund.
The fund provide schools, clubs and youth organisations in England and Wales with a full set of strips and training equipment, and aims to particularly benefit teams from areas in most need of assistance.
"It's really important to remember where you came from"
Hangeland, whose name is proudly printed on the sleeves of the brand new St Mary’s shirts, believes the initiative is superb way for players and clubs to connect with the local community.
"It's really important to remember where you came from," he told premierleague.com. "Especially in football because there’s such a long way from where these kids are to the top of football.
"Whenever you have the possibility it’s important to give something back to the communities, the grassroots or young kids playing football.
"The scheme is brilliant. What better gift to give to a team than some kit? They will play with the Premier League badge and my name on the kit all season and I will have shown them that I care about how they do and that we as players care about where we came from. It’s a great scheme. It’s a win-win situation for everyone."
Hangeland said he chose the school as he lived in the area when he first joined Fulham from Copenhagen in 2008.
As well as handing over the new sporting equipment, Hangeland took part in a question-and-answer session with the youngsters which embraced subjects such as tips for being a good captain, his best friend, the hardest match he has played in and his recent red card against Sunderland.
"I am always surprised to come to any school and see the pleasure of the kids and how happy they are just for us to take an hour out of our day," he added. "It's really something we should do more of.
"It is really a great initiative where we, who are on the top of the tree, get to give something back to the grassroots."
"Not only has it given us kit but it has also given us things that we can use in our PE lessons"
St Mary's headteacher Sarah Crouch
The Players Kit Scheme was launched last season and in its first year, more than 1,500 teams were selected to receive kits through the initiative. St Mary's headteacher Sarah Crouch said she would recommend any school to get involved.
"It's a fantastic way of getting children to have a great football kit that they can wear for their school, something they can feel proud in and also that connects them to the Premier League," she told premierleague.com.
"We have got football kit in school but it is very old and, school budgets being the way they are, there's no money for nice extras like football kit. The fact that we have got this opportunity to apply for the money, and Fulham have done it on our behalf, is really fantastic.
"Not only has it given us kit but it has also given us things that we can use in our PE lessons. So it's something that not just the football team will benefit from. All the children across the school will make use of that equipment so it’s really helpful. It's going to mean a lot to the school and it’s going to have a positive impact on my budget and our PE lessons."
Crouch also believes that talking to Hangeland will have a positive impact on the children.
"For the kids to see Brede was amazing," she said. "Clearly they had thought about that he was coming and what questions they could ask. They were so excited. He is such a good guy for coming and for answering their questions. It was a fantastic and exciting opportunity for them that they otherwise wouldn’t have got.
"It's motivating for them and to hear what Brede was saying about things like working as a team is very useful for them. It will have an impact on their playing."
The fourth application phase for the Players' Kit Scheme is now open and to find out more about the programme and how to apply, click on the links below.
Learn more about the Premier League Players’ Kit Scheme here >>