Thursday 18 July 2013
Gary Cahill, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Josh McEachran passed on their knowledge and showed their skills as they joined Chelsea Foundation coaches in delivering a clinic to local children at the club's Soccer School in Bangkok this week. The visit was one of a number of activities the club had with locals off the field during their pre-season tour.
"The results aren't so important, it is more about engaging different cultures"
The players visited the scheme which is one of several opened in the region since 2011. The idea of the project is to provide expert coaching across Asia, with hundreds of children who may not have access to football taking part each week.
"It's great to do these kinds of schemes and it's great to spend time with the kids when we are here, but also when we leave there is a legacy that lives on for the rest of the season,” Cahill told the club's website. "These kids can come and get some good coaching and improve their football, and that's the main thing."
There were almost 50 children taking part in the clinic, with the young people keen to show off their own tricks to the Chelsea stars at the facility which boasts three seven-a-side 3G pitches and is one of several the club have opened in Asia since 2011.
"It was my first time doing anything like that and it was good, I had a lot of fun and the kids had fun as well," Lukaku said. "It is something that you want to do and for me as a kid, I never had the opportunity to do things like that - I was always at school or helping my mum out.
"The kids' days are made when they see their idols coming from England and giving them training and little bits of advice, and when they apply it they see a big difference and those kids are very happy.
"The facility was very impressive and I was speaking with Kevin [De Bruyne] about it and in Belgium we should have a pitch like it to play inside with our mates, because we have the same thing but it is smaller - so the facilities are great and I think the kids can develop a lot of technical qualities on those pitches because the surface is perfect, they have good coaches, good balls and equipment to train with."
"A Chelsea shirt or tracksuit makes such a difference"
Cahill, De Bruyne and Lukaku were all involved as Chelsea's first team opened their tour with a 1-0 victory over Singha All Stars in Bangkok on Wednesday. There was also an important match the day before as Chelsea's Bangkok Soccer School hosted a special festival with teams of 10-12-year-olds playing each other in short-duration matches.
Young people from Chelsea's projects in the Philippines and Hong Kong flew in to take part and were joined by youngsters from the Bangkok project as well as teams from local schools and the Right To Play charity, the club's global charity partner. The partnership has raised more than £2m to develop more progammes in deprived communities around the world since it was launched in 2007.
"This is the first event of this type that we have done and we have called it a festival because the results aren't so important, it is more about engaging different cultures," Chelsea Foundation international development manager Ian Woodroffe said.
"We have been able to bring the parents over to this event and in Kuala Lumpur we will have a similar festival for 12-14-year-olds. The kids win some games and they lose some and hopefully they enjoy the experience."
Meanwhile, kits donated by Chelsea fans and staff have been distributed to young people at a Thai refugee camp, where Right To Play run a sport and play programme. The Tham Hin camp in the Kanchanburi province houses around 7,000 refugees from Burma and they received the first batch of kits as part of Chelsea's Kits For Kids campaign.
Hundreds of old kits have so far been collected at the clubs stores at Stamford Bridge and in Kingston, which will be distributed to some of the most marginalised communities in the world.
"We can only imagine what some of these young people have been through," said Right To Play in Thailand country manager Jacob Murray. "Many arrive at the camp with nothing so a Chelsea shirt or tracksuit makes such a difference and lets them know that people in the UK are thinking about them.
"We'd like to thank all the Chelsea fans and staff who kindly donated these kits - it means so much to these young people."