Thursday, July 21, 2005

English stars support youth on tsunami-hit Phuket

A soccer workshop hosted by players and managers from English Premier League teams Bolton Wanderers, Everton and Manchester City at Surukal Stadium on Thailand's Phuket island today attracted about 50 youngsters keen to have a kickabout with their idols. Unfortunately, word had spread about the initial cancellation of the workshop, with the result that number fell far short of the 400 expected to turn out for the chance to learn some soccer tricks from stars.

What did the visitors make of the enthusiastic youngsters? “These kids have had to put up with a lot in the past few months so maybe soccer’s a way out for them,” David Moyes, Everton team manager, told the Phuket Gazette,

Stuart Pearce, ex-English international and manager of Manchester City, said, “I think, as individuals, they are very talented, but their challenge lies in working together.”

Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, said “After last night [when the Thai national team defeated Everton 5-3 on penalties] we saw that they’re very quick and we can look forward to seeing a stronger Thai team. The whole of Asia is seeing an upsurge in football, so standards are bound to rise.”

On the pitch, Manchester City’s Danny Mills and Bolton’s Jay Jay Okocha put youngsters through their paces.

Kwanrudee Amphonkra, 14, from tsunami-ravaged Baan Koh Phi Phi School, the only girl to take part in the workshop, said, “I was told about this football clinic by my coach and was eager to take part as I would like one day to play for Thailand.”

After the workshop, the youngsters gathered round in a semicircle and watched several stars, notably Jay Jay Okocha, show off their skills. After lunching at Kata Beach Resort, the soccer stars visited Baan Kamala School to distribute gifts before returning to Surakal Stadium for a further workshop.