“You sometimes forget how much you can inspire and affect people.” Royals striker Jason Roberts was humbled by the reaction he got when he visited his old school to deliver free football kit and equipment to the pupils as part of the Premier League’s Player Kit Scheme.
This season, a joint venture by the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association encouraged every member of the every top flight squad to personally paid for brand new football kit and equipment to be distributed to a variety of schools, clubs and youth organisations of their choice.
There was no hesitation from a community club like Reading and with £25,000 sourced from the pockets of our players, we supported grassroots football in the local area - Danny Guthrie opted to help Whitley Park Primary and Nursery School on Brixham Road, Pavel Pogrebnyak chose to donate the kit to Oxford Road Community Primary on Oxford Road, while Jay Tabb supported Shinfield Rangers FC.
Some, of course, opted to give something back to the places it all started for them – Roberts returned to his old school in Brent, while Adam Federici (Australia), Noel Hunt (Waterford in Ireland), Jem Karacan (Turkey), Kaspars Gorkss (Latvia) and Jimmy Kebe (France) all sent their kit and equipment back to their home nations.
In total, £500,000 worth of sports equipment was donated by Premier League players across the country and the Premier League Charitable Fund assessed thousands of applications from clubs or youth groups keen to benefit from the stars’ generosity.
“As soon as I got the opportunity to nominate a team, my old school was the first thing that sprang into my mind,” Roberts said upon paying a visit to Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School earlier this season.
“It was such a humbling experience to go back and sit in my classroom again and see kids growing up where I have been. In fact some of the teachers were some of my school friends and the headmistress was the last teacher I had when I was there!”
“Being given the opportunity to hand the kit over to my old school in the area where I was brought up was nice for me. To meet the kids and to have a Q&A with them really was special and I had an absolutely fantastic day. I think I enjoyed it more than the kids!
“I know a lot of them watch Premier League football and you want the kids to be feeling proud to be representing their organisation, school or football team and having a good kit is part of it.
“From a player’s point of view, for us to be able to put our hands in our pockets and deliver this to the kids and give them an opportunity to feel proud is what it’s all about. And it couldn’t have worked out any better as they won their first game in the new kit. They had just got themselves involved in a league for the first time ever and to be able to give them the kit as part of the Kit Scheme was absolutely fantastic.”