Giving something back
By Nicholas Veevers
Thursday, 10 November, 2011
Young Lions treat Longhill School pupils to training session in Sussex.
England U19s had their final full training session on Wednesday as they prepare to run out in front of a packed Amex Stadium in Brighton on Thursday night.
Noel Blake’s side will take on Denmark in front of a sold-out 20,000 plus crowd and after an intensive session at the Sussex County FA’s base at the SCFA County Ground, the squad welcomed pupils from local Longhill School onto the pitch to join in with some of their exercises.
The Longhill U14 squad had watched the players in action on the pitch over the course of the full session and after seeing them from the sidelines, they were then invited to join the squad on the pitch and meet and chat to the squad.
With goalkeepers Jamal Blackman and Connor Ripley facing a shooting practise from the boys, they then had chance to take a penalty, before a cross-bar challenge with the squad took place.
Many of the pupils will now be at the Amex on Thursday to hopefully see the Young Lions put their work on the training pitch into practice against the Danes in what is their first home fixture of the season.
And given the support shown by the local fans in Sussex for this fixture, Head Coach Blake was only too happy to help give something back by letting the Longhill lads rub shoulders with players from clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
“We were all there at one stage, back in the day, playing school football in the local community and, who knows, there might be one or two players in that group,” he said.
“It’s great from our point of view to get involved with some of the local schoolboys here.
“It’s a vibrant footballing area and I know what it means to people, so we really appreciate people coming along in their numbers to support us.
“We just prepare them as we always do, they’ve got to get used to that. Their aspiration is to be playing in front of big crowds for the senior side.
“The more we can expose the lads to that sort of atmosphere, the better. Some of the boys have already experienced that type of atmosphere, whether with their clubs or internationally, but it’s something you can never have too much of.”