Former England and Chelsea footballer, Graeme Le Saux, was the star of the day when Cranleigh Prep hosted their U9 football festival on Friday, for the second year running.
There was a buzz in the air when the ex-Premier League defender, who was capped 37 times for his country, arrived to set up for the event, along with coaches from the Chelsea FC Foundation. 16 teams of excited footballers took part, with five local teams (Cranleigh Prep, Cranleigh Primary School, Greenfields, Park Mead and Wonersh & Shamley Green Primary) as well as ten from London schools (Eaton House the Manor boys, Finton House, Fulham Prep, Garden House, Knightsbridge School, Parsons Green Prep, Ravenscourt Park Prep, The Roche and Thomas’s Fulham).
Players, parents and coaches enjoyed a question and answer session with Graeme Le Saux in the School’s chapel, where they were entertained with stories of his career with the Blackburn Rovers and Southampton, as well as Chelsea and England.
After a delicious bbq lunch, Chelsea’s U10 coach, Tom Bird, explained the rules of the festival and the players headed down to the pitches and training areas. It was a gloriously sunny day and the school’s grounds were shown off to perfection.
The tournament was played on a round robin basis, with the winners on each pitch going forward to fight for the accolade of being festival champions. Each team took part in technical workshops with the Chelsea coaches in between matches, with some accompanied by Graeme Le Saux at the skills station where they were taught ball skills and set some fun challenges.
With a coach from the Premier League positioned on each pitch, Le Saux, Bird and Keith Harmes (U17 girls) noted and scouted the talented best players.
Cranleigh Primary were the overall winners of the festival, winning four matches and drawing two. Prizes were also handed out to individuals from Garden House, Greenfields and Ravenscourt Park Prep who were picked out by our talent spotters and Scott, from Cranleigh Primary, was crowned ‘player of the tournament’.
Russell Hodges, from Ravenscourt Park Prep, said:
“this is definitely the best event we go to, as it is a brilliantly organised, fun and inclusive day out that is not just about winning.”
Everyone was awarded a medal and given a Chelsea mini ball to take home, as well as having a photograph with Graeme Le Saux and Keith Harmes.