The success of Chelsea’s latest visit to Perth and the reception the club has received will see the Blues return to Western Australia in the near future.
That is the guarantee of Chelsea Foundation Senior International Development Officer David Monk, who described the programs the club has been involved in with Football West as good as any he has seen.
“I’ve got to say, the pre-season tour this year and the activities around it have been some of the best I’ve been involved in my 11 years at the club,” Monk said.
“And that’s solely been down to the wonderful help of Football West.
“I guarantee this will not be the last time Chelsea and the Foundation come out to Perth in some capacity to work with grassroots and Football West.”
Since arriving in Perth last Tuesday, the Chelsea Foundation and Football West have put on coaching clinics, visited schools and run an Under 8s football carnival at Langley Park, where former Socceroos World Cup goalkeeper and current Chelsea ambassador Mark Schwarzer was a big draw on Sunday along with the FA Cup trophy.
Schwarzer and the FA Cup were big draws at Langley Park
Monk added: “We started on Tuesday, working all the way through to today culminating in what is a fantastic youth tournament here for Under 8s with 10 teams participating, a chance to have a picture with the FA Cup and meet Mark Schwarzer.
“In the build-up to that, going out to several high schools and primary schools, working with two groups of coaches, grassroots and development level, over 150 coaches educated during the week, over 500 players worked with – elite and grassroots level – and then yesterday, for me personally the best opportunity we’ve had was to engage with the Paralympic squad here in Western Australia. The adults all the way down to the under 11s.
“We’ve managed to essentially develop and work with the whole footballing spectrum here in Perth during this week.”
Speaking about the way they have been received on their third visit to WA and first in 44 years, Monk added: “We are aware there is a big English and ex-pat community. We didn’t know how much of a great reception we were going to get, just in terms to people having loyalty to the other English clubs. But in actual fact the reception has been amazing and we’ve been taken back by the hospitality and the fact there’s many Chelsea fans and if there wasn’t before we came there definitely is now.”
Football West Head of Development Jamie Harnwell and Chelsea Foundation Senior International Development Officer David Monk
Asked if he thought they had won a few fans over, Monk added: “I would like to think so and the approach we have always had as a club is to try to give something back as opposed to be extracted from the community.
“And having the largest foundation in Europe that we do have, it allows us to have the bandwidth to have coaches here on the ground for a number of days to have an impact.
“We’ve really worked hard over the last 10 years, especially in Asia and the Asia Pacific region, to have actually more of a genuine presence and that is having our Chelsea coaches – boots on the ground per se – based in Bangkok, in Singapore that are accessible to all areas of the community.
“It’s something very innovative that other clubs I’m sure would see value in. But we’ve tried to pioneer in that sense to come out and give all the kids an authentic experience of Chelsea and the EPL on their doorstep or in their back garden.”
Action from the Under 8s carnival at Langley Park on Sunday
Football West Head of Development Jamie Harnwell has worked closely with Monk and his team. He said the sucess of the week had shown both Football West and the wider football community in WA could deliver.
“It’s been fantastic,” Harnwell said.
“The reception they’ve had everywhere has been superb, they’ve been really positive about not only the standard of football but the quality of clubs and the people that work here. We couldn’t be more delighted.”
Harnwell was speaking at the 10-team Under 8s carnival on Sunday, where a deluge couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of players and spectators alike.
“Today has been great,” he added. “It’s just a showcase of young players. Bad conditions, puddles everywhere, and they’ve got on with things with a smile on their face. And the opportunity to have a photo with the FA Cup as well, that’s a once in a lifetime thing, so I’m rapt with how all the clubs have embraced it and enjoyed the day.
“The week shows the level of engagement we (Football West) can get across the world in terms of football. To be linked with Chelsea Football Club, to be on their website that gets some 30 million vews, across their social media, is a huge boost for us and just shows Western Australia can compete on the international stage in football as well as anyone else.
“They wanted to work with a range of different players of all different abilities and we’ve done that through Intensive English Centres, Paralympic sessions, female football as well. We’ve made sure they’ve been busy and had a good week and they’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Perth CBD made a fantastic backdrop to the Under 8s carnival