With overseas activity still getting back to normal post-pandemic, the Chelsea Foundation’s international department have been busy out in the United States, reconnecting with associates in Illinois, Indiana, New York and Philadelphia.

As well as building out plans for the year ahead, the Chelsea Foundation delivered coach education workshops for 24 local coaches from the Illinois state association at their base in Schaumburg, just outside of Chicago. The workshop focused on developing a coaching philosophy and sparked some interesting conversation as coaches talked about their own club environments.

That evening, the visiting Foundation team then headed three hours east to Indiana, where the Illinois, Kansas and Indiana state associations were hosting a soccer festival for players to test their abilities and learn as part of the national Olympic development programme. That included the Chelsea Foundation delivering a classroom workshop for all the staff attending, followed by a field-based coaching demonstration.

Ian Woodroffe, international development manager at the Chelsea Foundation, said: ‘It’s always great to get going early in the new year, especially following what has been a difficult couple of years for our team and many others due to the pandemic.

‘Illinois state have been a consultant associate of ours for the last five years, where we have delivered a range of education sessions, including virtual activities throughout the pandemic and a Champions League Trophy Tour in 2021. So it’s great to be back out here reconnecting and giving something back to the community.’

The next stop on the trip was New York, where the team reconnected with students at a local community school located in Harlem, Neighbourhood Charter School.

The Chelsea Foundation has been providing ongoing support to Neighbourhood Charter School, including coaching provision for students and visits from ex-players such as Michael Essien and Ashley Cole. The team also returned to the school as part of the Champions League Trophy tour in 2021.

For this particular visit, more than 80 Chelsea Foundation coaches delivered clinics for students from years two, three and four, along with exploring how we can further connect to the school as we move forwards through 2023.

Chris Woodward, senior programme manager, added: ‘It’s always brilliant to visit Neighbourhood Charter School. The students are always of high energy and engaging despite, unlike the students we come across in UK, basketball being their preferred sport.

‘Given that, the players did extremely well, all trying hard to develop their dribbling skills and close control in the drill and enjoyed the fun games. We certainly look forward to visiting the students again in the not-so-distant future.’

Last stop on the trip was Philadelphia, where the Chelsea Foundation were meeting with associations and colleges at the 2023 National Coaches Convention, with lots more to come in the months ahead.