World Book Day was celebrated at our Cobham training ground on Tuesday as 150 schoolchildren attended a Chelsea Foundation event full of practical and literacy sessions.
The children, aged seven to nine from schools across London and Surrey, had won the opportunity to attend after taking part in a short story writing competition for schools from across the Chelsea Foundation network.
More than 500 children took part in the competition, with the top five authors of the stories and their classes invited to Cobham for the event which saw them take part in education and football sessions at the club’s indoor arena.
As an added bonus for those in attendance, former Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini popped in to announce the overall winner, with Kitty from St Martin’s Primary School in Dorking crowned champion.
Kitty’s story featured Chelsea Women defender Millie Bright and a magic ball, with the England international telling a young player called Chelsey how she could use the magic of the ball to win the game.
‘It was great to see so many kids involved, both playing football and reading and writing,’ said Cudicini. ‘The most important things are being active and education, and it was good to see them writing stories about Chelsea players from the past and present.
‘Reading is so important, it gives you time to relax, use your imagination and be yourself so it is good to see the Foundation doing work for this.
‘When you can combine football and education, it is the perfect match. Education and learning is important but kids also need to have fun and enjoy themselves so the two together is perfect.’
World Book Day has been a staple date in the diary for more than 20 years, with millions of children everywhere heading to school on 5 March dressed as their favourite characters from the pages of their favourite books.
The Chelsea Foundation challenge asked children to write their own 500-word short stories based on any element of the club, with entries including stories on the men’s and women’s teams, club legends and the adventures of club mascots Stamford and Bridget.
Chelsea Foundation head of education Sam Gaskin-Kemp said: ‘It has been a great day, and the perfect way to celebrate this project and World Book Day.
‘We had about 500 entries and we chose our top five authors and invited them and their classes to come to the training ground to take part in an afternoon of literacy and football sessions.
‘The story that won was a really creative story with a happy ending. The judges thought she’d used lots of positive adjectives and that she’d taken the brief on fully. It was also about Millie Bright and Chelsea Women. It is always important to promote the women’s game and encourage young girls to enjoy football so that was an added bonus.
‘The children enjoyed having Carlo along because he is such a positive role model. One of the activities was about Chelsea legends so the children knew who he was and really enjoyed listening to him and asking questions during the Q&A.’