West Ham United have played a major part in a Premier League initiative to support grassroots football in Beijing that culminated in a Community Festival.
The club's Community Sports Trust CEO Mick King and Rashid Abba, who had the prestigious role of head coach for the week-long Creating Chances programme, were key to the significant success of an event that also involved Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur. It was staged daily at the Changping Sports Bureau in the Chinese capital since last Friday.
Abba was assisted by club community coaches Kate Holmes and Jonny Wright, and the work they did alongside the other Premier League representatives proved hugely popular with the 44 physical education teachers and 96 children from Beijing who took part.
King was proud of the their contribution. "The coaches performed tirelessly in their delivery of quality coaching," he said. "They have left a lasting impression on the young people that they coached by improving their levels of enthusiasm and knowledge of football.
"They have been outstanding ambassadors for the club and the game. Their commitment has accelerated the learning process of the participants, leaving behind them inspired young footballers who will never forget the club that travelled 5,000 miles to coach them."
With Abba leading the way, daily developmental sessions were held under the Premier Skills banner along with the Creating Chances community programme for 10-13-year-old children. Both have been held in tandem with the Beijing Football Association with the aim of leaving a lasting legacy behind.
Abba said: This has been a very successful project. The pupils have attended every single day without fail. What we've been teaching the young children is the basics of football. So we've taught them how to pass, dribble and shoot the ball. In between the sessions we delivered question and answer workshops."
On Thursday, first-team players Jonathan Spector, Jack Collison, Junior Stanislas and Josh Payne took time out from their schedule to lend their support, as did former players Tony Gale and Tony Cottee. They got involved in the sessions as well as speaking to the international media that had gathered for the Community Festival, which was also attended by Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scuadamore and Premier Skills head coach Warren Barton.
Spector said: "It is great to be involved with the club's community work and see what the Premier League have been doing here in China. It is nice to see such a big turnout of young children. It looked like they were all having a good time which is the most important thing.
"The children are very good listeners. The language barrier is difficult and it is hard to understand each other but the translators have been very helpful. The most important thing is for the children to enjoy themselves and the game. It is such a wonderful sport. It is something that I love to do and hopefully they will take much away from the experience."