Club ambassador Katie Chapman made a surprise visit to Burlington Junior School on Thursday to open the school’s new gym and deliver match tickets for Chelsea Women’s final home league fixture against West Ham United on Sunday.
Burlington Junior School is based in New Malden, just 10 minutes away from Kingsmeadow where Emma Hayes’s side play their home fixtures, and their pupils were given a special visit from the former Blues captain on Thursday morning.
Chapman, who won five trophies during her four-year stint at the club, joined in a Chelsea Foundation-led football session and took part in a Q&A with pupils who formed the schools girls and boys football teams.
She then handed out a host of tickets for Sunday’s game against the Hammers before officially opening the school's new gym and posing for photographs with staff and pupils.
Chapman said: ‘We’ve been here at Burlington Junior School working with the boys and girls' football teams, getting them used to the footballs and then we had a quick Q&A.
‘We then opened the outdoor gym which is now available for the children to use to help them get more active so it’s been a very enjoyable morning.
‘I think it's key that we come out into the community, into these areas and hopefully I can be a part of that and can help to educate and inspire children to play football and also come and watch the women’s games.’
She added: ‘It’s great that more and more schools now are getting girls football teams and I think for me today seeing the two mixtures of the teams, boys and girls, and they was just getting on with it.
‘There was no one asking any questions, or saying I’m not playing with the girls, they just came out and they all got on with playing football and I think that’s the way it needs to be going forward and I think this shows how far football has come in this country, especially for the women’s game.
‘For girls joining in and playing, there’s more availability for them to play and it’s more enjoyable for them. It’s becoming normal for them now.
Jude Shorter, a teacher at Burlington Junior School, said: ‘We’ve been really lucky today to have Katie come down and help deliver a coaching session with our girls and boys football team.
‘They’ve got to experience Chelsea coaching and Katie has also opened our new outdoor gym for us so it’s been a great day.
‘The gym has been put in place to try and combat child obesity and so that’s where the money has come from to try and raise awareness of that and to try and keep children fit and healthy within our school.
She added: ‘The children have been so excited about having Katie here ever since they found out about it.
‘Both the girls and boys have been buzzing about it and particular for the girls, it’s really made them realise that football is accessible for them as well and they can be successful in it so it’s been amazing to have Katie here who can be a true inspiration for them.
‘A lot of these children won’t get the opportunity to go to football games and so to have Chelsea give us these tickets is truly remarkable and it’s a massive honour to receive them because the kids really love it, they get a real buzz from going to see the game and it makes them want to go and play football even more.’