St John’s Walham School were set to represent the Chelsea Foundation at this year’s Premier League Primary Stars Finals after they were crowned winners of our female qualifying tournament earlier this year.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the national tournament which was due to take place in May at Vicarage Road, the home of Premier League Watford, was cancelled.
With the girls in their final year of primary school and due to leave in July, Chelsea Foundation staff were keen to organise a reward for their success. This came in the form of Chelsea Women’s legend Katie Chapman, who surprised the youngsters by joining a specially arranged online session on Thursday afternoon.
The young female footballers were taking part in a practical session led by a Foundation coach via an online platform before the surprise arrival of Chapman - who spoke with the girls about her career and what she had to overcome to reach the very top of the women’s game.
Chapman, who won the FA Cup 10 times during her illustrious career, said: ‘The girls did great to reach the finals and I know it must have been disappointing for them to not represent the club due to the pandemic we are currently facing.
‘For the Foundation to then try to turn that disappointment into something good for the girls to experience is amazing to see. I was only happy to join the call.
‘It was great to speak to the girls and it was great to see so many enthusiastic about playing football and to hear them asking for tips on how they can reach the top. Hopefully reaching the finals is just the beginning for them and they can go on to achieve their dreams and reach the top of women’s football in years to come.
‘And maybe one day they will be in my seat giving advice to more young females wanting to achieve a professional career in women’s football.’
James Welch, a PE teacher at St John's Walham School, said: ‘The girls really enjoyed it, even if they do become a bit shy sometimes!
‘They are a great bunch and I appreciate this as something to encourage them all to stay passionate and engaged in football. I thought the sessions were great and the messages from both Alfie and Katie [Chapman] were really meaningful and hopefully stay with the girls.
‘I appreciate all the Foundation’s help and support with this, they really have been so disappointed in missing out on the PLPS and London Youth Games finals.
‘I think they can see from today that people at the Foundation care and they will have learnt plenty from the experience.’