Stuart Pearce was in Birmingham to celebrate a huge milestone for The FA Tesco Skills programme.
Wales v England
2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Play-Off First Leg
7.45pm, Friday 10 October 2008
Ninian Park, Cardiff City FC
Second Leg: 7.45pm, Tuesday 14 October 2008, Aston Villa FC
As the England Under-21s prepared for the European Championship Play-Offs against Wales, Coach Stuart Pearce was on the latest leg of his community visits to celebrate a huge milestone for The FA Tesco Skills programme.
Accompanied by Under-21 players James Milner and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, two stars who ply their trade in the Midlands, the trio took part in an FA Skills session at New Oscott Primary School in Sutton Coldfield.
Led by former England internationals, and now Skills Coaches, Marianne Spacey and Mark Walters, Pearce, Milner and Ebanks-Blake got involved in a coaching session on what was a memorable day for all.
Since its inception in June last year, 500,000 children aged between five and eleven years old from all across the country have received specialist training through The FA Tesco Skills programme.
"That is a lot of kids coming through the system, that is unbelievable," said Pearce as he watched coaching drills taking place.
"Whenever I go to these, I bring a couple of players with me as well, and the enthusiasm of the kids is the one thing that has struck me everywhere I've been.
"Whether it's been drizzling, it's been chilly or sunny, you name the weather, the enthusiasm shines through from these youngsters."
Pearce added: "Certainly I started in this manner, enjoying football as a kid, and obviously these youngsters absolutely love it.
"It's all about kids being out in the fresh air in a structured environment that is educational and fun. Don't tell me it's not good for young kids to be out in the fresh air doing a sporting activity."
And Sir Trevor Brooking, The FA’s Director of Football Development, is just as pleased to see Skills is having an impact all over the country: “To have already had 500,000 kids taking part in the Skills coaching sessions is a fantastic achievement and testament to the hard work of all the Skills Coaches across the country," he said.
“Thanks to the new funding from Tesco and Sport England we can look forward to building on this success and achieving our ultimate goal of providing Skills coaching to one million children by 2010.”