It was the turn of PNE defender Ben Davies to be out in the community as part of PNE’s Premier League Primary Stars Programme with the 22-year-old paying St Aidan’s Primary School a visit.
The school, based in Bamber Bridge, Preston took Davies in as one of their own – where, after introducing him as a special guest to the children, he took part in a PE lesson ran by PNE’s Primary Stars team.
Davies would have been right at home with the activity, with the centre back getting involved in an invasion game which involved participants beating a defender into space.
The North End man also took time out to speak to the children where lots of questions awaited Davies with children keen to find out more about what it takes to become a professional footballer.
Speaking after the lesson, Davies said: “The kids really do put a smile on your face – they’re enthusiastic and it’s quite refreshing.
“They’re all really excited when you turn up even though they may not necessarily know who you are, but they’re happy none the less and they’re just pleased to see a professional footballer; hopefully they can look up to us and we can set a good example and get them into sport.”
A keen observer of the session was Headteacher of St Aidan’s Primary School Leanne Finch who witnessed first hand the impact Davies had, just by coming into the school.
“Ben coming in has had a great impact,” told Leanne. “We were so excited - we didn’t tell the children that we were coming in - we just said if you could ask a professional footballer anything, what would you ask them? And that was the only clues we gave them. When they saw him arrive they were so excited and it was just so inspirational for the children.
“We always talk to the children about having aspirations - so actually getting to meet a professional player just shows that, that dream is achievable and they can ask questions about it.
“It may be simple questions such as ‘what they do in their spare time’ but it just helps the children to realise that these sports stars are just normal people and it’s something they can achieve and a goal they can go towards as well - so to be able to talk to the players and really get to know them is great for the children.”
St Aidan’s Primary School are investing into a programme which is becoming more and more popular in Preston with schools throughout the area signing up to North End’s school provision.
The PNE Primary Stars Programme consists of fully qualified coaches from North End who come into schools and deliver a variety of programmes - from national curriculum and PSHE lessons to highlighting key positive messages such as its Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Programme.
Having been involved in the programme for just less than a year, Leanne was pleased with the children’s progression thanks to the partnership between St Aidan’s and Preston North End.
She continued: “Getting the coaches to come into the school has been great for the children and parents.
“We put a great emphasis on physical activity - having the coaches in and just wearing that badge to those children.
They seem to value the PE lesson a lot more when PNE deliver it as sometimes they don’t see the PE lessons that we do as teachers as being the real thing.
“They want to join in and we’ve had such a bigger uptake in sport and after school clubs as they see these professional players and they see the coaches PNE send in and it really does just inspire the children.
“It inspires them to take part so we’ve been looking at who takes part in which clubs and the number is just rising all of the time - parents want their children to join in as well because everybody wants to be involved with their local football club.
Davies’ appearance at St Aidan’s was just one of many player appearances that the club and Community Trust foresee throughout the year, and the young defender was quick to value events such as this and what they do for the club and community.
“The kids were so keen and I think it’s brilliant to get out into the community and to encourage people to be active and healthy.”
“We want these kids to come and watch the games and enjoy it as much as they can so if them seeing us in the community helps them to come to Deepdale then it’s better for the club.”
To find out more about Preston North End’s Premier League Primary Stars Programme and to get your school involved, call 01772 693309 or email Harriet@pne.com.