Young players from Chelsea FC’s Academy have been visiting local schools to talk to pupils about the importance of healthy lifestyles.
The visits were part of an initiative called ‘Chelsea Champions’ orchestrated by the club’s foundation.
Under-17 players split into four groups and visited different schools in the local community to deliver workshops focused on National Fitness Day on Wednesday of this week.
Defender Dynel Simeu spoke to a group of pupils aged 11 to 15, and said: “It’s so important to have a healthy lifestyle because it makes you a happier person. You look good, it means you can participate in more sports and you can do everyday activities with more ease.
“We’ve been talking with the students about what a healthy lifestyle looks like, what types of food you should eat and giving them tips on how to make sure you’re in the best shape possible. When you’re young, you just think junk food is fine to eat all the time but we can pass on some of our experiences to help them.’
The main aims of the partnership are to inspire young people from different areas and backgrounds to engage in a healthy lifestyle and improve educational performance, through the delivery of interactive and engaging sessions. The players are responsible for devising the structure of their workshops, with classroom-based theory followed by more practical work outside.
Another player, James Clark, explained: “The kids were so excited to see us so it meant a lot to just come and talk to them about nutrition and fitness. We found out a lot of the students skip breakfast and generally don’t eat well so we talked about our eating habits as young footballers, what we eat and why it’s important to eat that.”
The Chelsea Champions initiative began earlier this year, placing full-time Chelsea Foundation staff within secondary schools with the aim being to increase physical activity, support leadership qualities and improve emotional wellbeing and resilience of students through a number of universal, targeted and individual measures.
Pupils from Thomas Bennett Community College, Pimlico Academy, Chelsea Academy, Clacton Coastal Academy and Fulham College Academy Trust were invited to Stamford Bridge in April to officially unveil the planned project.
Programme leader Joanne Tighe said: “We’re aiming to bring the Under-17 scholars into these schools as part of their own apprenticeship. We want them to inspire and engage with young people across various national and international days, such as National Fitness Day or World Mental Health Day next month.
“The Chelsea Champions work with a range of different students, some with behavioural issues or low self-esteem, others who have poor attendance, and the aim is to bring in the players as role models so they can help raise awareness of these different subjects.”
Michael McDermott, assistant head teacher at Fulham College Boys School, said: “The tie-in with Chelsea is key because it promotes the idea of being successful and showing how you can achieve that by working hard. We’ve had fewer incidents of behaviour concerns among the students involved in the programme, they’re taking on more leadership roles in the school and they’re more positive about coming to school.”