Chelsea Women forward Erin Cuthbert made a surprise visit to one of the Chelsea Foundation coaching and education sessions in Israel on Monday.
The Scottish international did not feature against Israel on Tuesday due to a minor injury but that did not stop her popping along to Israel’s national training facility to meet the young girls in attendance for the female empowerment in sport session.
Cuthbert spent time posing for photos and watching the girls play before taking part in a Q&A with the 60 youngsters.
The event itself saw girls from both Israeli and Palestinian backgrounds take part in coaching and education sessions with the Chelsea Foundation.
‘It was amazing to come and meet the kids, such a humbling experience and all the kids were so happy to see me as well which is nice,’ said Cuthbert.
‘They were so enthusiastic and just really excited to play football which is nice to see.
‘I can only speak from my own experience in Scotland but I had little summer camps to go to like this event and the coaches were always really good and if a famous player came to visit I would try extra hard and want a photo like these kids did.
‘I can imagine there are lots of barriers the girls have to go through in their lives so football becomes a happy place to go to and shut away any problems and have fun.
‘It’s amazing what the club are doing in Israel. If our trip and these sorts of initiatives put a smile on one girl’s face that’s great, but it has done that for hundreds of girls from what I have seen.
‘They are having a great time and it’s not just the football, the theory sessions are great as some of the girls don’t have what we have back in the UK. Sometimes we take that for granted so it is important to come to Israel and teach the girls not just football, but how to be as a person as well. The girls seem so receptive as well.’
Less than 24 hours earlier there had been another surprise guest at the same venue, with Blues boss Emma Hayes joining a Foundation-run coach education session.
Despite spending the day on a tour of Jerusalem, Hayes found the time to join the 30 coaches, 25 of whom were women, in attendance.
‘I really enjoyed that, I wasn’t expecting to see so many coaches,’ said Hayes, who is a Chelsea Foundation trustee.
‘I talked through a little bit of what we do at Chelsea and we had a Q&A around things relating to their challenges and struggles. I just offered my experience of how I dealt with things through my seven years at Chelsea and I have got to say it was one of my highlights of the trip because I have been in their position.
‘I encourage them to keep pushing because coaching is a lonely journey, it’s full of struggles, but the determination, will and building good relationships and networks little-by-little will make a massive difference overall.
‘I also told them, for me it’s not just about the women’s team. It’s about the football community and I think being on the board for the Foundation I know first hand the work the club does, and to be a part of that has been more special rather than being sat in a board meeting.
‘I appreciate the efforts of our Foundation to unite and provide opportunities for different communities and promote the right things - that is a club that sets us apart.’