Brighton & Hove Albion winger Solly March was delighted to take a trip down memory lane and inspire the next generation of footballers, as he returned to St Bede's School for a guest appearance at a soccer school ran by Albion in the Community.
The club's official charity runs these during the school holidays with 450 boys and girls taking part in the last two weeks alone, and March expressed his pride at being invited to attend.
He said, “It was good fun. I’ve been back a few times, seeing people, going to the gym and using the facilities. But I’ve never been back when loads of kids have been here.
“It makes me feel proud, because when I was their age and in their situations, going to soccer schools, a professional footballer would turn up and you’d be buzzing!
“The set up with Albion in the Community is great. They go around Sussex setting up football schools and kids can come to enjoy themselves.
“They love football and probably want to be a footballer when they’re older, so it’s brilliant. 14-15 years ago, I was doing that, so there’s every chance that one of them could make it, and I really hope they do.”
The 23-year-old then spoke about Albion’s opening months in the Premier League, and highlighted their 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion as a pivotal moment in the season so far.
“Everyone has been really pleased with the start. I wouldn’t say we didn’t think we’d start well, but we’ve probably started better than most people expected.
“We’re on track to stay safe. We just need to make sure we keep working hard, make sure we pick up results and play well.
“The first win of the season [was the stand-out game]. It gave us the confidence and belief to pick up points and score goals. Even for the crowd, it was a relief when we scored that first goal.”
March scored his first Premier League goal against Bournemouth last month, but the winger is keen to add more firepower and creativity to his game, ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Southampton at the Amex.
“Any player wants to be starting every game and playing well. I’ve just got to keep working hard. I want to add more goals and assists to my game, as that helps the team, so it’s a win for both.
“It’s the closest to a derby that I’ve played in [v Southampton]. I think it’s going to be a good game, we’re in similar positions at the moment, and both teams could be a few points up or down.
“It’s a big game and at home we’re confident we can get a result. We need to be clinical.”
Brighton & Hove Albion Soccer Schools take place at venues across Sussex.
For more information visit: www.albioninthecommunity.org.uk.