Students at Fuller Middle School in Framingham were already having the time of their lives training with Chelsea Foundation coaches when David Luiz, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Emerson Palmieri turned up to make it a day they will simply never forget.
The Foundation coaches have been delivering education workshops and football sessions at schools around Massachusetts in recent days and on Tuesday they headed for Framingham, Middlesex County, which is around 20 miles west of Boston.
The session was in full swing when the Chelsea trio surprised them on Tuesday afternoon, raising the noise levels inside the school’s sports hall considerably!
Many of the students in the area are Latino or Hispanic, and so Emerson and in particular David Luiz were huge hits with the youngsters. As well as joining in with the exercises, the players also headed to the classrooms to discuss the significance of diversity, equality and inclusivity not only in sport but in life.
‘It doesn’t matter where you come from, it depends on your heart,’ said David Luiz, the undoubted star of the show whose mere presence brought tears of joy to one child.
‘I just try to treat them all the same way, that’s why I was speaking Portuguese, English, Spanish, and do my best to make them feel comfortable.
‘Chelsea is a big club and a big club is not just about players on the pitch. The Chelsea Foundation has been doing an amazing job during many years. For me they are winning more titles than us!
‘Chelsea has won 15 titles in the last 15 years but it is not just these titles that are important. This work is amazing and it’s great to part of this club.’
Marian Ryan, the Middlesex District Attorney, played an important role in organising the event. She explained why it will have such a major impact in this corner of the county she helps govern.
‘Middlesex County is a county that is diverse in every possible way,’ she said.
‘One out of every five people in our county of 1.6 million is born somewhere other than the United States. So it’s particularly important for kids to be aware of diversity and equality. Schools are a great place to do that, and for kids the best way to do that is around something like sports.
‘They’re having a good time, talking to the coaches, getting photos with people and at the same time they’re learning that lesson.’
The Chelsea Foundation focuses on using the power of sport to raise awareness and bring people together. Bob Tremblay, superintendent of schools in the area, was in no doubt the day had done just that at Fuller Middle.
‘If you look round the room you see so much energy and excitement,’ he said.
‘We don’t get this every day! It’s fun to watch the kids engage. We really appreciate the opportunity for this.
‘A lot of our kids play soccer either in clubs in the community or in school leagues. They can appreciate the popularity of these athletes, who they look up to and who look like them and speak their language. That association is really powerful.’
The event ended with speeches thanking those who helped make it such a success, and then there was a chance for a few more selfies, and a huge group photo with the Chelsea stars who today made so many children’s dreams come true.