Sports-mad youngsters who took part in Oxford United in the Community’s Easter Soccer Schools camp last week were paid a special visit by four of the football club’s first-team players.
Jack Stevens, Rob Atkinson, Alex Gorrin and James Henry took time out of their training schedule and engaged with children on the charity’s Easter programme.
Although the quartet were unable to participate in small-sided matches due to COVID-19 restrictions, children were able to ask their United idols a series of questions and learn more about what it takes to become a professional footballer.
This year’s Easter Soccer Schools camps were attended by 150 children who worked in groups of 15 across two weeks. The fun sessions taught children aged between 4 and 13 new football skills and techniques while focusing on the development of agility, balance and coordination.
Chris Lowes, Head of Oxford United in the Community, said: “After engaging with our community digitally for many months, it was great to physically welcome children back to our holiday camps. Inspiring people to lead active lifestyles is a big part of what we do as a charity.
“It’s always brilliant to see the young kids’ faces when professional players make surprise visits to our holiday camps and our thanks go to the players who took part.”
During lockdown players have supported Oxford United in the Community in its ambition to provide everyone in the county with a positive experience with the football club by joining virtual coffee mornings and making phone calls to the club’s supporters who are most at risk of isolation.
Goalkeeper Jack Stevens said: “It has been a long time since we were able to engage with people in Oxfordshire, but to see the kids enjoying their football again through the charity’s Soccer Schools programme was brilliant.
“It was a shame we weren’t able to join in with the session by training and playing with the children, but safety must be prioritised, and the Oxford United in the Community team has done a great job in ensuring camps are within Government guidelines.”
Midfielder James Henry added: “I remember taking part in similar camps when I was young. The opportunities and provision that Soccer Schools provide are so important to support the development of key life skills in young people. I was impressed with the questions the children asked us, they certainly didn’t hold back, and I’d like to think they learnt a thing or two along the way.”
To watch how the team got on when they visited Oxford United in the Community’s Soccer Schools camp just click on the video above
Oxford United in the Community helps inspire people to live happier and healthier lives in better connected communities using the power of football. Last year it engaged with over 2,500 people in Oxfordshire.
For further information, visit the charity’s new website