Juan Mata met local children during a Celebration of Education Through Football (ETF) event at Stamford Bridge yesterday (Monday).
The Spaniard was joined by Chelsea Foundation trustees and delegates from the Premier League and the PFA for the occasion.
The event saw the Chelsea Foundation’s education manager Jeff Gayle give a presentation on the initiative, which uses the power of Chelsea Football Club to improve children’s maths, English and history.
Local headmaster Jared Brading also spoke about the project and how it has been received at schools before children from Servite Primary School in Fulham met Mata for a Q and A.
‘Education is really important and I’m really proud the club is using the pull of Chelsea to help these children to learn,’ said Mata.
‘Chelsea has done very well with this kind of project, which helps kids have a future. It’s very important for the club to have programmes like this and I’m very proud because education allows you to grow as a person.
‘It was also brilliant to meet these children, because every footballer loves to see the excitement on their faces, it reminds us of how we were when we were growing up. They also had some really good questions to ask,’ added Chelsea’s number 10.
There are four strands to the ETF programme – maths and IT, literacy, anti-discrimination workshops and a senior fans programme called Alive and Kicking.
Kickstart Maths and IT uses the power of football to help children struggling in these areas to increase their maths and IT skills. Teachers reported that over 90 per cent of pupils attending achieved a better-than-expected rise in their attainment Levels.
The literacy and history strand is based around the Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman book Billy the Kid: a story of a boy growing up in the 1930s. Billy’s dream to play for Chelsea FC is interrupted by the war with tragic consequences. Class teachers are given resource packs based on the book, which fit in with the Primary Literacy Framework and the history curriculum.
The Alive and Kicking project sees senior fans coming to the Hubs at Stamford Bridge and Cobham to learn computer skills. They also have a further role in Education Through Football because they visit schools taking part in the programme to speak about their experiences growing up during the war.
ETF has been running for eight years and reached over 6000 Year 5/6 pupils. Last year the programme was delivered to 1675 pupils across schools in Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Wandsworth and Elmbridge in Cobham.