FIVE BLUES PITCH UP IN KL
It has been a busy few days in Malaysia for Chelsea's Foundation coaches, and on Saturday they were joined at our Kuala Lumpur Blue Pitch facility by five of the first team squad.
Petr Cech, Ryan Bertrand, Andre Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel and Tomas Kalas all visited the afternoon's coaching clinic, which was aided by adidas, to deliver a session to children involved in our soccer schools from across Asia.
The players stayed at the facility, which opened in 2011 as part of our Here to Play, Here to Stay programme, for more than an hour each taking a turn at the four different coaching stations, which involved small-sided matches and individual skill sessions.
After the event, Cech expressed just how impressed he was by the Blue Pitch, which has an outdoor seven-a-side pitch, an indoor 3G surface and a versatile hard court area.
'The Blue Pitch facility is excellent. It's covered to keep out of the heat or shelter from bad weather, and one of the surfaces is multifunctional so you can play tennis or basketball, or different activities,' the goalkeeper said. 'The combination of all this means you can also play football on the artificial pitch, it's an excellent thing.
'I always enjoy working with kids at events like that, for a good cause. I have my own summer camp for kids and I can see here also how much it means and how much pleasure and motivation they take from it.
'Here to Play, Here to Stay is something the club can do to leave a legacy behind and it's a massive thing, because the facility stays there forever. People start thinking about football in a different way, players gain motivation from playing one-to-one against players they have on posters in their rooms. It's priceless, and great to deliver.'
The event was just one of a number of activities Chelsea Foundation coaches have been involved in since arriving in Malaysia. They have also worked with children at a Samsung-organised event, while coaching children from a local orphanage on Thursday.
'The kids have been so excited to meet the players, who had a brilliant reception, and they also enjoy getting involved,' said coach Andy Ottley. 'I've seen them getting a bit of a sweat on in the exercises and have been really involved and encouraging. It makes the kids' day and they'll be talking about it forever.
'They have all had a great time, and it's fantastic to be back out here,' he continued. 'Some of our coaches were out here two years ago with the tour, and the kids remembered some of the faces too, which is great.
'The kids from a nearby orphanage came down for a two-hour session on Thursday. Their attitude, enthusiasm and effort was amazing, and in the evening we went to the orphanage and broke fast with them. That was very interesting and very enjoyable to be a part of, which gives us an understanding of their culture too. It was a special and unique experience.'
Also encouraging is that our representatives have recently finalised their coach education programme, ensuring that when they leave, local coaches can deliver Chelsea-standard programmes for the children.
'Watching how the coaches here are now interacting with their players you can see they are starting to play the way we teach back home, the Chelsea way,' Ottley said. 'That shows this campaign is working and we only hope this can keep evolving.
'It's brilliant going out and working with the kids, but we can only do that with a certain number at a time, so if we educate the coaches we can affect hundreds.'