Tuesday saw the official launch of Albion's 'Pass It Forward' programme in the impressive surroundings of the 60,000-capacity Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
A press conference, attended by 30 media professionals, officially started the event, with the press particularly impressed by Albion's charitable CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiative alongside Youth Football International (YFI) in Delhi.
Following the press conference children from local deprived areas were invited to enjoy a two-hour training session with club coaches Dave Lawrence and Siobhan Hodgetts on the main pitch inside the massive stadium. The children were amazed by the size of the stadium and received Albion goody bags at the end of the session.
60 children from three different age groups, from all backgrounds, were then invited to take part in the finals of the talent trials at the stadium. Some of the children had travelled for up to 48 hours by bus or train just to take part and to experience coaching from West Bromwich Albion. Five children from each age group were presented with special Albion medals to recognise their achievements and one winner from each age group received a signed West Bromwich Albion shirt and a scholarship at YFI's academy.
Following the trials, a VIP dinner for 80 guests was held at the stadium, where Sales and Marketing Director, Adrian Wright, and Albion Foundation Business Development Manager, Jon Ross, outlined the plans for Albion's programme in India. Guests at the event included, Jiji Thomson, (Director General of the Sports Authority of India), Subhash Goyal (President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators), Barry Lowen (Director of UK Trade & Investment - Delhi) and Sharad Pawar (India's Agricultural Minister).
The day was a roaring success with many Indian companies expressing an interest in joining Albion as supporters of the 'Pass It Forward' CSR programme.
On Wednesday we visited Delhi Public School for our first session, where Siobhan Hodgetts coached some over-14 girls and Dave Lawrence the boys. We were greeted with a guard of honour and a huge round of applause from the pupils.
From there we coached at the British School, then on to American Embassy School. There Siobhan coached the varsity girls’ side, before we both went on to deliver a session to the YFI under-13s and 15s.
In total we spent around seven hours coaching and a good few hours travelling, but we are really pleased with the way the kids are taking to us, interacting with us and learning from us here in Delhi.
The children seem to be very appreciative of our efforts and are looking forward to seeing us again.
The talent is excellent and the respect the kids have got for visitors is outstanding.
Yesterday (Thursday) we visited Genesis Global School, a £40million sporting campus in Noida, to the north of Delhi.
Here 40 children took part in a 90-minute coaching session. We toured the school and viewed its amazing facilities, including equestrian centre, roof-top tennis courts, golf driving range and 1500-seater canteen.
After a two-hour drive we visited Angels Academy in a slum on the outskirts of Delhi. Here Sylvester runs a school for 120 children teaching them a moral education in a class room just 20ft by 10ft. The children proudly showed off their work books and performed a series of traditional dances for us. Sylvester showed us a moving video detailing the work he has undertaken at Angels Academy using the medium of football as a prime motivator with amazing success.
Our coaches then took 60 children from the slum to a nearby football field where they enjoyed a training session.
We presented the children with a signed Albion pennant, pencils, pens, workbooks and water bottles. The gratitude shown and the smiles on all of the children's faces was extremely humbling and something I will remember forever.
Today has shown us how both the well off and the very poor can develop life skills such as respect, teamwork and discipline, in addition to having fun through the medium of football.
Matthew Dainty (West Bromwich Albion Head of Marketing).