Stuart Pearce, Fraizer Campbell and Lee Cattermole were at Bottesford Town before their match at Hull.
England v Portugal
UEFA European U21 Championship Group 3 Qualifier
7.45pm, Friday 5 September 2008
Before every England Under-21 home match, Stuart Pearce and his players get out among community clubs and projects to visit the players, coaches, referees, volunteers and supporters who make up the grassroots game.
As England Under-21s headed out into the community once again in the build-up to their friendly in Hull last month, they found that the streets of Bottesford were empty.
But as soon as Coach Stuart Pearce and players Fraizer Campbell and Lee Cattermole arrived at Bottesford Town FC, it was clear why. Local kids and parents from Lincolnshire and beyond had turned out in their droves at the ground near Scunthorpe to meet The Three Lions stars, who watched the club's young players honing their football skills.
With the school summer holidays in full swing, The FA Charter Standard Community Club were able to keep their junior teams active with training sessions to showcase the work they do – and the fun they have.
Pearce, Campbell and Cattermole were welcomed to Birch Park, home of the Northern Counties East League outfit, by Junior Club Secretary Steve Altoft. The trio were given a guided tour around the training pitches, observing the kids' sessions and offering advice to players and managers.
“It's nice to come and have a look around and see how the set-up works, so for us it's a pleasure to come along,” said Pearce. “The time and effort put in by coaches and parents is not lost on us.”
“It's a good set-up,” added Wigan Athletic midfielder Cattermole, “especially with the kids off school, to keep them off the streets and playing football. It seems like only two minutes since I was like the kids here. And, who knows, there may be opportunities for some of the lads to further their career in the game.”
During the visit, the players were happy to sign autographs and have photographs taken with the many people who turned up to see The Three Lions close up.
Pearce added, “It's nice for us to be able to put a bit back into the community. The players enjoy the afternoon too. We try to have a rotation system, so as many players as possible can get involved over the season – and they've been very forthcoming in giving up their time.”
On Wednesday in the preparation for the game at Wembley, Stuart Pearce and a pair of his players will be at Crawley Green Football Club in Luton where they will look at what goes on at Bedfordshire FA’s Refereeing School of Excellence.
TICKET DETAILS v PORTUGAL
Tickets are priced £10 (adults) and £5 (children) for Level 1 and £15 (no concessions) on Level 2.
Tickets are on sale now from the Hotline 0844 826 2010 or via The FA ticketing site where further information can be found including details of group booking discounts.