CHELSEA-COACHED STUDENTS IN FA CELEBRATION
Kingston College Skills Centre learners, coached by the Chelsea Foundation, enjoyed a day to remember in December as they helped the Football Association bring the curtain down on their 150th year anniversary celebrations.
Since September the disabled students have been enjoying some professional coaching by Max Ashley, inclusion project coach at the Chelsea Foundation, and they were invited to be part of a football tournament to celebrate the FA's landmark birthday.
The students enjoyed skills training and then played games in front of ambassadors from the FA and former England star, Gary Lineker, as well as Chelsea Ladies forward Eni Aluko.
Held at Barns Elms playing fields - the same venue which staged the first-ever match using the original laws of the game exactly 150 years ago - and organised by the Surrey FA the team from Kingston College played Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College (supported by Brentford FC) to showcase how far football has come since the laws of the game were penned in 1863.
'For the guys to be involved on a day such as this was amazing and is exactly what the inclusion project is all about,' said Ashley, who joined the players at Barns Elms.
'They don't get the chance to play against others so being able to do so on the final day of the FA's celebrations was brilliant.
'It was great to go with them and see the smiles on their faces and from my perspective it shows we are achieving something.
'Unfortunately Gary Lineker didn't get a chance to meet the players as he was being kept busy elsewhere but he did look over and give the guys a wave.'
Before the action kicked-off, Surrey FA dignitaries were joined by FA chairman Greg Dyke to visit the grave of The FA's founder Ebenezer Cobb Morley at Barnes old cemetery.
This was followed by a commemorative 11-a-side match between children from Richmond Park Academy and Christ's School, as well as mini matches between school girls from Kew Riverside and Barnes primary schools.
Lineker and Aluko also opened a new stand funded by Richmond Council and Barn Elms Sports Trust.
Caroline McRoyall, acting CEO of the Surrey FA, said: 'It's been a privilege to bring this fantastic year of celebrations to a close, which has highlighted all the good work carried out at the grassroots level, such as raising standards and investing in facilities.'