Tuesday 06 August 2013
One of the stand-out players of the 2012/13 season in the Barclays Premier League, Juan Mata is not only a fan of our football and culture, he is especially impressed with the depth and breadth of the community programmes that our clubs run.
A keen student himself - the 25-year-old Spaniard has studied for two degrees - he has taken a particular interest in Chelsea's education programmes. Here he explains the difference football can make.
"It's a real honour to be asked to contribute to the Premier League's Season Review, particularly with the number of outstanding players currently in the League. I think that on the pitch the Premier League is genuinely the most exciting league to play in, in the world. Any team can beat any other, and every week you know you are in for a hard game no matter who you play, home or away.
"Importantly, though, I think what sets the Premier League apart is the work away from the pitch"
"Importantly, though, I think what sets the Premier League apart is the work away from the pitch, the work that the players and clubs do to help communities and the people in them. Clubs are active members of their own communities and I know that when I first arrived at Chelsea I was amazed to see the range of work the club undertakes. I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the launch of our Education Through Football programme, and seeing the difference that initiatives like this can bring is inspiring.
"By taking kids out of classrooms and bringing them to Stamford Bridge we can help the development of their maths and language by using football and their love of the game to help motivate and inspire them. For them, adding up the number of goals the team has scored, or working out how many miles we have travelled, or the percentage of games we have won is a different challenge to more formal education and it really seems to get kids interested.
"Writing match reports or stories about football develops writing and reading, keeps them interested and helps make learning more fun. I think when you look at programmes like some of the social inclusion work the clubs undertake, it just shows what a deep impact football can have.
"Kids engage and identify with coaches in a different way to youth workers or the police. Kids with nothing to do will often find themselves hanging around getting bored, drinking or doing silly things to pass the time. It's the same throughout the world. By giving them something positive to do and getting them playing football or even becoming coaches, we are helping overcome some of the problems that communities face.
"We are proud to support the community work and we are all proud to be part of the Premier League"
"Football is much more than just a game, it is a way of life, and clubs are demonstrating their commitment to putting something back. For us at Chelsea, it's not just in London and
the South East, the commitment to helping communities is now an essential part of the club’s pre-season tours. Everywhere we visit as part of the tour we want to put something back as part of our Here to Play, Here to Stay philosophy.
"In Asia we have created a series of Blue Pitches and community programmes to engage young people. In the US we are working to develop the grassroots of the game, offering young players the chance to get professional and high-quality training whatever their level. It's an important part of the club and it's something English clubs do very well.
"As players we are very proud of what we have achieved on the pitch at Chelsea and the work the club and the Chelsea Foundation do in order to help people at home and internationally. As players we are proud that in the last two seasons we've carried the logo of our charity partner Right To Play on the back of our European shirts in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. We are proud to support the community work and we are all proud to be part of the Premier League."
This interview is taken from the Premier League's 2012/13 Season Review. To read more from the review, click here >>