TORRES: MAKING CHANCES
Fernando Torres has praised Chelsea's community work in Asia ahead of our Here to Play, Here to Stay summer tour.
Torres visited our Hong Kong Blue Pitch, the first of our branded soccer schools to open in Asia, back in 2011, and the experience left a lasting impression on the striker.
'When I went it was nice to see the kids there, you see the same happiness everywhere when kids are playing football,' said the 29-year-old. 'It doesn't matter where they are or what they have, they all enjoy playing football, and this is the key to success. It's nice to help them realise the dream is not too far for people like them.
'It is nice for them to be able to meet us and for us to be role models out in Asia. When we were kids we dreamed of being the top players, and like them we were kids in working class neighbourhoods from hard-working families.'
With further facilities now added across Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand, as well as one due to open in Indonesia soon and another planned for China, there is the hope that Chelsea and the Chelsea Foundation can continue to aid the improvement of grassroots football across Asia.
'The importance of these things is they give the same chances to everyone. It doesn't matter where you are born or where you come from,' Torres said. 'They give everybody the same chance to develop as a footballer. It's nice, everything they are doing for the community in these cities across Asia.
'If you are born in England, Germany or Spain, with all the fantastic facilities they have in Europe, it's not the same for the kids in Asia, where football is not the biggest thing, so it is nice to extend this access to football and Chelsea around the world.'
Torres ended the 2012/13 season with 22 Chelsea goals and a Europa League winner's medal. After a summer break he is hoping for even better next time around.
'Always the summer is a busy time for rumours and transfer speculation, but it's an exciting time,' he said. 'For players it's a chance to rest and get ready for the next season.
'If you see what Chelsea has done in the last 10 years, winning so many trophies. Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world but we have to keep doing these things.
'Targets for next season are the Premier League, the European Super Cup, where we have a second chance to win it, and we are back in the Champions League. So we will rest in the summer, and get ready.'