A group of 36 local children, aged between six and nine, were put through their paces by Chelsea Foundation coaches in suburban Saitama, Japan on Monday.
Nestled between a railway line and a housing estate, the Captain Tsubasa Stadium played host to a coaching clinic designed to ‘bring Chelsea to life’ for the youngsters.
Foundation international development manager Ian Woodroffe said: ‘Player names are used as actions and team names to build familiarity with the Chelsea squad, as well as to illustrate the particular attributes of those players.
‘The sessions focus on individual technical skill, before moving into more competitive environments, such as one versus one, and then small-sided games.’
It was on the technical side of the game that the participants quickly showed great capability, which Woodroffe says is typical of the way football is coached in schools here in Tokyo.
‘There isn’t a lot of space here in Japan, so in schools for example, you might have 50 children all with a ball each, on a very small pitch,’ he explained.
‘They’ll be coached on technical work such as touches on the ball and keeping it close to their body. As they progress through to 11-a-side games, they’re not used to having to move the ball into such bigger areas – and that’s why you’ll see Japanese teams very good with the ball in tight areas.’
Stamford the Lion was on hand throughout the event, offering many high-fives and one or two glimpses of promise with the ball at his own feet before the day came to a close with a presentation ceremony.
Every young Blue went home with a Chelsea medal, two tickets to Tuesday’s pre-season match against Barcelona, and no doubt some good learnings and memories of a wonderful day on the pitch with the Foundation.