Pouring rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of kids who turned out to give players and officials a colourful welcome before a display of Mauritian cultures, a coaching session involving the full squad and a signing session to finish.
Martin Jol, Ledley King and Robbie Keane also helped plant trees in the school grounds to commemorate the visit.
But it was when the lads mixed freely with the kids that the real heart-warming scenes arrived with the children split into groups. It was smiles all round as Robbie demonstrated some of his tricks, Ledley taught basic skill drills and Jermain Defoe gave a lesson in shooting.
Sporting Director Frank said: “The children were wonderful and it was very
important visit for all of us. We can all relate to our days in school and I can remember myself when we saw the big stars come to our home town and we were delighted to see them. I know how special it can be for the children. As a club we’re not here just to have a few days rest, we know how important this trip is to everyone here, we have a lot of fans and it was an honour for us."
Head Coach Martin said: “It’s amazing when you see the kids, they are living in a different world but they are so grateful. We were there with smiles on our faces and it was so nice to be there.”
Skipper Ledley King agreed: “To see so many smiling faces was something special. I speak for all the lads when I say it was an honour for us to be here. These are the days you remember from these tours in years to come.”
Erik Edman added: “Going to a school like that and seeing all those kids makes you realise how fortunate we are to be playing football. They were fantastic.”
Frank Arnesen led the tributes to the local children of Mauritius after Thursday’s visit to the Rose Belle North Government School.