Earlier this week, Millwall were among a vast array of professional clubs taking part in this season’s EFL Day of Action, showcasing the power of football to local communities.
The event has been a significant success in previous years, and on Tuesday we joined forces with Turnham Academy in Brockley as Lions goalkeeper Tom King participated in a football and games session with the primary school’s pupils.
“To be working with the community here and to see some of the smiles on the kids’ faces is very rewarding, and brings a smile to my face as well,” King said.
“I think the club has taken a massive role within the community – I’ve been here five years now, and every year we look to be taking more of an active role. The more people we become involved with also helps get people into The Den on a Saturday and a Tuesday to support the boys.
“The more coaching we have and the more time youngsters can get to see and be relatable to us players, I feel that this can inspire them and hopefully bring the next Ben Thompson or Fred Onyedinma through the ranks at the club.”
Charlie Pearce – who delivers various physical education and classroom sessions to students at schools in and around Bermondsey through Millwall’s Premier League Stars programme – added how important it is for clubs to shine in the community by offering these types of activities.
“It’s a joy to do it,” Pearce says.
“These sessions aim to give children an opportunity to do what they like to do, it benefits them growing up and gives them a chance to regularly enjoy sport – giving them a platform to potentially look to carry it on outside of school.”
Pearce also highlighted the benefits of linking the community with professional players such as King, as it raises the inspiration of the schoolchildren, and some of the methods used to attract a new generation of Lions supporters.
“Ever since the kids heard that a Millwall player would be coming down, they were guessing who it would be and were very excited.
“A lot of children don’t often have the chance to go and watch live games, so we look to give tickets out and engage with the local kids and families.
“The partnership between the club and the schools in the area is absolutely key to what we do, and getting the players down shows how important they are to what we’re trying to achieve.”
Click here to take a look at our gallery from Tom King’s visit to Turnham Academy as part of the EFL Day of Action.