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Football legends visit Jason Roberts Foundation in Stonebridge

PUBLISHED: 13:00 04 April 2016

A prestigious group of former footballers, including Eric Abidal and Christian Karembeu, recently visited the Jason Roberts Foundation

A prestigious group of former footballers, including Eric Abidal and Christian Karembeu, recently visited the Jason Roberts Foundation

Archant

A group of former World Cup and Champions League winners, including Eric Abidal and Christian Karembeu, visited the Jason Roberts Foundation's base recently as education and sport met in Stonebridge.

As well as Abidal and Karembeu, the star-studded list also included Geremi, Bruno Cheyrou, Sebastian Kehl, Nuno Gomes and Juninho Pernambucano, who were invited down to the Pavilion by founder and trustee Jason Roberts.

Roberts, as well as the aforementioned names, are currently participating in a UEFA Executive Master for International Players (UEFA MIP) course.

The degree will equip the former players with the tools to embark on a future career in the administrative management of football.

While they were there, the stars turned scholars played a game of futsal, where some of the young ambassadors of the JRF even got involved in the action.

After the game, there was an opportunity for everybody in attendance to network and indulge in a Caribbean themed buffet.

Supported by the Hyde Group, it was an event where football met education and this message was echoed by the former professionals to the youngsters in attendance.

Speaking to the Times, Roberts said: “We were honoured to have the guys come to the Jason Roberts Foundation, to come down to north-west London and play where I learnt to play football.

“We’re right by Our Lady of Lourdes, that’s my old school, so it was a bit of a surreal moment for me.”

Former Liverpool and France midfielder Cheyrou added: “I think it’s a good example we can show to the people and to the young lads here that we are nearly 40 years old and we are going back to school.

“We know that education is important, as Jason said, it’s a passport for life, even more so than football.”

This is a sentiment also shared by the Hyde Group, a housing developer aiming for social change who work closely with the Foundation, and helped to arrange the event.

Communities and youth manager of the Hyde Group, Sarah Willis, said: “Working in partnership with the Jason Roberts Foundation has been absolutely amazing for us.

“The partnership means we can ensure that our young people from the local residence get to engage in sport and also get to build their leadership and team skills. There are other jobs within sport for them.”

Sakariya Hassan, a 14-year-old bright prospect who plays in the Hyde League - which is designed to bridge the gap between grassroots and academy/league football - had the opportunity to play with the crop of legends.

He said: “It was a great experience, I enjoyed it and learned so much from them, I was just really happy to be there.

“My highlight was when I chipped it over the defence to set up Eric (Abidal) and he scored.

“It’s not like this happens every day, it’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

While playing with the legends will live long in the memory for the youngsters, the evening stressed that there are more careers in football than just being on the pitch.

The man behind organising the event, Jason Roberts, added: “It’s one thing to have the engagement of the kids to be involved in it but more importantly for them to realise it’s not just about football.”

- The Jason Roberts Foundation are hosting a celebration dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Wembley on Saturday April 9.

Roberts, as well as West Ham’s Michail Antonio and rugby legend Serge Betsen will form part of the panel on the night.

To purchase tickets for the dinner call Mie Ostergaard on 07947 344 602 or email info@jasonrobertsfoundation.org

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