ESSIEN ON HAND TO GREET HONG KONG YOUNGSTERS
Michael Essien met with members of the Hong Kong Soccer Schools at Cobham today as the group visit the UK to train at our world-famous training ground.
Thirty children from the HK Soccer Schools are in the country for a week as they look to learn the Chelsea footballing philosophy, taking part in several training sessions at Cobham before enjoying the sights and sounds of London.
'It's very special to be involved and meet the kids,' said Essien. 'To see the smiles on their faces when I arrived was lovely.
'It's very nice for young children to meet their heroes, and it's important that we are good role models for our supporters all around the world.'
Having been in the country for a few days already, the group took part in a training session, where they were put through their paces by Chelsea coaches amid perfect conditions, and David Tsui, coach at one of the club's Hong Kong Soccer Schools, was blown away by the quality of the facilities at Cobham.
'It's a great experience and the pitches are great, the children love it very much,' he explained, 'when they step on the pitch they love it and they really enjoy training here.
'It's very enjoyable and they all feel happy to meet Michael Essien. They were so excited before he walked in the room as they didn't know which player it was going to be.'
With the club having toured Asia on a number of occasions, and another one possibly on the horizon next summer, our ever-expanding reputation within the region continues to grow.
Robert Udberg, Chelsea's International Development Officer, believes the impact of the work carried out in the area, particularly the Blue Pitch Project, should not be underestimated.
'We travel all over the world and get to interact with lots of children from different cultures and communities,' he said. 'The Blue Pitch Project we have in Hong Kong is crucial to that, it's a base for us in a different part of the world and the kids get to take part in Chelsea activities on a daily basis with Hong Kong coaches.
'For them to experience another culture and be away from home for a long time, some of them are only nine-years-old, it's a really good thing for their development and it gives them something to aspire to.
'Michael was fantastic with them, he broke the ice as soon as he came in with a big smile on his face, but it's so special for them. They're huge consumers of the Premier League, and Chelsea in particular, and to see their heroes training is an experience of a lifetime.'
The trip will culminate with the group coming along to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening to watch our league game against Newcastle United.