The worlds of football and motor racing came together in Kuala Lumpur this week as Sauber F1 Team driver Esteban Gutierrez hosted Malaysian children at the Chelsea FC Soccer School in Kuala Lumpur.
The event saw 24 children attend a football clinic conducted by Chelsea coaches before they learned about the finer points of motor racing from Gutierrez, who is in the country for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.
The activity began with a 90-minute football clinic that saw the children being put through a series of training drills before they played in a six-a-side mini tournament on the Chelsea Blue Pitch, a legacy of the club's "Here to Play, Here to Stay" Tour of 2011.
Following the completion of the football clinic, the children met with Guttierez, who gave an educational talk about motor racing and his Sauber F1 car, showing the participants a model of his elaborate steering wheel and explaining the importance of a driver's reaction time at the start of the race. The 21-year-old, who finished 13th at the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, also fielded questions, telling the participants how he got started in racing and how important it was for them to pursue their dreams.
The session concluded with an autograph session in which all of the participants got a chance to have individual photographs taken with Guttierez, who was all smiles as he reflected on the session and the chance to meet and interact with local children, away from the glare of the Grand Prix circuit.
'Today was a great experience because you can see the hopes and desires of these kids who may be wishing to become professional footballers in time,' said the Mexican. 'It was the same for me when I was younger except that I wanted to be a professional racing driver. But at one time, I started like this and I was just like them.'
Having arrived in F1 after winning the GP3 Series in 2010 and finishing third in GP2 last year, the opportunity to become a role model for youngsters is something that resonates strongly with Guttierez.
'My goal is not just to be a racing driver but to be the best racing driver and I am also interested in being a good example to younger people,' he explained.
'To take my career as an example, you can really accomplish your dreams if you want to go for it. There are always opportunities and you should not be afraid to take them.'
The event is an extension of the groundbreaking partnership between Chelsea and Sauber, which is focused on ways to enhance sporting and business performance and includes the exchange of knowledge in sport science, joint commercial initiatives, merchandising, events, marketing and linked sponsorship opportunities.
For marketing director Alex Sauber, the relationship between the two teams is growing strongly and offers some excellent opportunities to work together not only on commercial ventures but also on grassroots activities like the joint sports clinic on Wednesday.
'It's always great for us as a team when we're somewhere in the world and we can go to a place and meet with the people who live there, particularly with children,' Sauber said. 'It's always a pretty good activity and Esteban, for sure, is a role model as a professional sportsman.
'I think that for both Chelsea and Sauber, it's been a very interesting relationship and it has been developing in many ways. It needs time to grow but we'd love to do events like today's a lot more, especially in Asia where football and Formula One are growing and becoming more and more popular.'
Chelsea's Adrian New, managing director in Asia Pacific, added: 'The continuing development of our partnership with the Sauber F1 Team is very exciting for all of us at Chelsea. This event in KL demonstrates how two world-class teams from very different sports can combine to educate children as well as giving them an amazing day of activities.
'Through our Soccer Schools, of which we now have nine across Asia, Chelsea are committed to helping communities, charities and underprivileged children. It is very important to us that our continuing on-field success enables us to give something back through CSR events such as today.'