Papa Boupa Diop and Freddie Sears made a visit this week to see youngsters at the West Ham United Community Sports Trust half-term football courses.

The two players, fresh from a warm-down following Monday night's 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion, went to Gaynes School in Upminster, where around 50 children were enjoying a skills session.

Under the guidance of the community coaches, the youngsters were learning and improving their skills and playing in short matches.

Sears and Diop came down and spoke with the children, encouraging them as they played.

For Sears, the visit evoked memories of his own childhood when he attended similar courses.

"It is always nice to come down to one of these community courses. The club have been doing these for some years now and they are very good.

"You saw the kids' faces when Papa and myself arrived and you know how much it means to them.

"I used to attend these courses as a kid myself and if you had a player from the club come to visit you, it was a big thing. It was a player coming from the club you support to see you.

"I have been to many of these and it is really enjoyable. They were having fun but really trying to do well in their football and it was good to meet them."

Sears joined in with some of the short practice matches and was impressed by the skills the children were showing.

"Yeah, a few tackles went in! They were good, some of them are only little - but as I said, these courses are good for them, good for the club and if it is something we can be involved in and help out, then that is great."

Diop, himself a father, said he was also impressed by the way the course was run and how the children were responding to everything they were being taught.

"The children were all really focused on their football, but were being encouraged to do the best they could and that was good, because you could see that they were enjoying being there.

"My own son, who is four, is starting to play and so many of these children here are doing that and you never know, some of them may go on and play professionally when they are older.

"I enjoyed coming here and it is a great thing for the club to run."

The course at Upminster was one of several during the half-term week, with sessions held across East London and Essex.

For academy coach Bryan Glover, the visit capped a successful week. He said: "The courses have proved popular again - but we want to encourage more to attend - we make it fun but the youngsters also learn how they can improve their skills and learn new ones.

"It is in a disciplined environment but we all have a laugh and it is about going home after a day of enjoying yout football, meeting new friends and old and enjoying a good social atmosphere as well.

"We would like to thank Papa and Freddie for coming down, they were excellent and joined in and made the day for the kids who are here. It was a real surprise for them and it helped make the course even better."

For more details on the work of the West Ham United Community Sports Trust, log on to www.whufc.com