‘What it is all about.’ That was the verdict of Mark Schwarzer, the former Chelsea goalie and a soccer legend in this part of the world, after he handed out the prizes at a football tournament that was the culmination of the Chelsea Foundation’s time in Perth.
The Foundation coaches’ activity in Australia began before the team arrived to prepare to play Perth Glory and on the day before the game, on pitches alongside the banks of the Swan River, they hosted a tournament for local under-8s teams. The Foundation even managed to organise proper blustery and wet English conditions!
You can read more about the Foundation programme in Perth by clicking here. Regional international development manager David Monk is pleased with how it has gone.
‘It has been a fantastic week,’ he reports.
‘We have worked across the full spectrum of grassroots football, we have been into several primary and high schools and worked with the Paralympic team, and adults all the way down to the under-11s. We have worked with the girls elite group, the boys elite group of Western Australia and on top of that we did two coach education evenings working with grassroots and development level coaches.
‘In the short time we have been here we have managed to work with over 500 young players and over 150 coaches, and it ended with our grassroots under-8 football festival with the winners receiving the Chelsea Tour Cup Perth 2018.’
It was a team with a famous football name, Wembley Downs, who lifted the cup, beating Baldivis 2-0 in the final. Both teams received medals and for the winners, there were tickets for the Chelsea v Perth Glory game. All participants had the chance of a photo with the FA Cup.
Schwarzer did the honours. ‘It was good, it was what it is all about - grassroots football - and when you see kids running around, it is reminiscent of when you were growing up as a kid,’ says the man who played 109 times for Australia.
‘The only difference is they are fortunate enough to have Chelsea Foundation coaches out here and it is brilliant what they do, experienced coaches with different ideas, different techniques and it is all about the kids’ enjoyment. And the great thing about it is that for these kids it is all free.
‘Coaching the coaches is definitely a big part of it and particularly at the grassroots level. There is a curriculum out here in Australia but I am also a big fan of having your eyes opened up a bit more, that not only do you have a curriculum, you gain other information and ideas and different takes on how football can be coached. That is important to take on board.’
Monk reports that the facilities used for the events in Perth have been fantastic.
‘We have gone out to schools and seen that it is almost exactly the same as we have in England,’ he says. ‘In terms of the level of facility but in terms of an impact as well. We have been working with players who are very into soccer, and we have been surprised how many Chelsea fans there are as well, which is fantastic. It is our first time in Perth and I am sure it will not be the last time the Foundation come here.’