Courtesy of PremierLeague.com
Royals striker Jason Roberts has returned to his old school as part of his involvement in the Premier League’s Player Kit Scheme, and then saw the team win their first match in their brand new kit.
The 34-year-old went back to the Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School in Brent on Wednesday to hand over the free kit, bibs, footballs and cones to the Year 6 pupils.
Roberts took part in a question and answer session as he presented the shirts to the youngsters, who proudly donned the new kit before going on to win their first match 5-3.
"To meet the kids and to have a Q&A with them really was special and I had an absolutely fantastic day. It couldn't have worked out any better," he told premierleague.com. "It was a big result as it was their first win. They have 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.
"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 they did!"
Our Lady of Lourdes is the latest organisation to have benefitted from the year-old scheme which is a joint initiative between the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association.
Schools, clubs and youth organisations are able to apply for the new equipment, which is funded by donations from the players of all 20 Barclays Premier League clubs.
Each club donates £25,000 to create a £500,000 fund and in its first year more than 1,500 teams were selected to receive kits through the initiative.
The players are able to nominate where they would like the donation to go and Roberts believes the scheme is an ideal way for footballers to forge closer links with the local community.
"It's a big thing for a player, to actually come along and deliver it to the kids," he added. "Being given the opportunity to hand the kit over to my old school in the area where I was brought up is nice for me and I am sure the kids got something from it as well. I know a lot of them watch Premier League football and what I took from it was that they were happy that we were thinking about them and that they are important to us.
"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. You sometimes forget how much you can inspire and affect people"
"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 of what they are doing is fantastic."
And Roberts was delighted to have been able to help a school where he spent his formative years. "As soon as I got the opportunity to nominate a school, my old school was the first thing that sprang into my mind," he said. "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. You sometimes forget how much you can inspire and affect people. To go there and to speak to these kids and spend some time with them, I enjoyed it as much as they did and hopefully some of them took something from the experience.
The fourth application phase for the Players' Kit Scheme is now open and to find out more about the programme and how to apply, click on the links below.
Apply for the Premier League kit scheme here
Learn more about the initiative here