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Local youngsters shine alongside former football internationals

Posted on 23 March 2016

Hyde’s Pavilion centre in Stonebridge played host to some very special guests on Tuesday evening (22 March), when several former international footballers visited and took part in a 5-a-side match alongside local youngsters.

The event organised by partners, Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF), was to launch UEFA former footballers’ master class which aims to train former internationals and provide them with skills useful for after their playing careers within the football industry.

The players visiting included former French internationals; Eric Abidal (Barcelona),   Christian Karembeu (Middlesbrough, Real Madrid), Cameroon’s Geremie (Real Madrid, Chelsea), South Africa’s Pierre Issa (Chelsea) and Germany’s Sebastien Kehl (Borrussia Dortmund). They played a futsal match alongside local youngsters from the U21 JRF team who play in the Hyde league based at the Pavilion.

Young people and ambassadors from the JRF also had the opportunity to talk, interview, network and share experiences with the international stars over a Caribbean buffet afterwards.

Seventeen year old Renny Di-Mampova said: “I thought today was good. Ibrahim and me are youth ambassadors for the Jason Roberts Foundation and we both got the opportunity to play with the legends. It was another great opportunity offered to us by the Foundation. We would not normally get this opportunity coming from the background we are from.”

Speaking after the event, Sarah Willis, Communities and Youth Manager for The Hyde Group, said: “We are delighted to host this special event at our Pavilion sports site with our partners Jason Roberts Foundation. The work we do in partnership with the Foundation has a hugely positive impact on the lives of young people and the community in Stonebridge.” She continued: “It’s been an amazing experience for the young people meeting with such distinguished ex-professionals, something they will remember for many years to come.”

JRF’s Founder and Trustee Jason Roberts is amongst the elite players, who are studying to develop the tools to gain senior roles in football. Jason said: “I’m thrilled to welcome top football players from across the world to the Pavilion in Stonebridge, where I grew up and learnt to play football. It means a lot to me that I am able to share the work my Foundation is doing for the local young people and to show how we use sport to change lives.”

He continued: “It was great to see the whole UEFA MIP team getting involved in the futsal match and also taking time to talk to the young people from the Foundation, who will remember this forever. I would like to thank the UEFA MIP team for coming tonight, and the Hyde Group for continually supporting the Foundation to work with local young people.“

The Hyde League is a JRF initiative - a Football Development League for young people developed by young people, where education and sport meet.

Retired French international Christian Karembeu who played in the game and met local youngsters said: Today was awesome. It was a great opportunity to see how Jason and his Foundation have used football to change lives.”

Watch a short film of Jason Roberts talking about his work in Stonebridge.

(Pictured Eric Abidal former Barcelona player, Champions League winner and French international poses for a selfie with local youngster.)