As school days go, Wednesday will live long in the memory of pupils at St Charles Catholic Primary School after former Chelsea star Joe Cole made a surprise appearance at their school.
The visit formed part of the Chelsea Foundation and Nike’s activation to promote Black History Month, which began in October and saw the Foundation visit more than 50 primary schools to deliver a range of equality and diversity activities.
With the support of Nike, the activity centred on students creating and submitting poems to the Foundation on the subject of equality and diversity with the top 10 entries invited to Stamford Bridge to perform their poems to a panel of judges.
On the day it was a young quartet from St Charles Catholic Primary School who impressed the judges and won their school a surprise visit from the former Chelsea and England star.
Upon arrival Cole first surprised the four youngsters who had won the prize, before joining their classmates for a coaching session and a classroom workshop delivered by Chelsea Foundation staff. A Q&A followed before the four winners presented their winning poem to the ex-England international and received a personal invite from Cole to visit Cobham and watch the men’s first team team train on Thursday.
Speaking at the event Cole said: ‘I really enjoyed the day, the questions in particular were very interesting as it is not easy to discuss equality, diversity and racism.
‘It is wonderful that school and football clubs are working together to tackle challenges like this. We are a front runner for the world in terms of equality and diversity and it is because of schemes like this ensure children are well versed on the subject from a young age.
‘It is important they learn about it when they are young so they can grow up to be well rounded adults and we can do our bit to improve the world.
‘I am fortunate to be in a position to give back to the community. Football is one thing but there are much more important issues in life and while football can be the catalyst that gathers everyone’s attention and shines a light on issues at the top level, it is this hard work at the grass roots which really makes the difference.’
Marked in the UK for more than 30 years, Black History Month takes place in October and aims to celebrate the achievements and contributions of the black community over the years with the work forming part of our Building Bridges campaign.
Chelsea Foundation schools education manager Sam Gaskin-Kemp, who has led on the campaign said: ‘The visit from Joe Cole was a fantastic way to end the activity. We’ve worked in more than 50 schools with football helping us to inspire the children to discuss equality and diversity.
‘Joe was brilliant and the children loved having him at their school, for him to then invite the winners to Cobham to meet the men’s first team was the icing on the cake!’